The Dutch state is unable to take a golden share in ABN Amro bank, even though a majority of the shares are still in public hands, finance minister Wopke Hoekstra has told parliament.
MPs had called on the state to take a golden share in the bank, which it bailed out during the financial crisis, to prevent executives being awarded very high salaries. A golden share would give the minister 51% of the voting rights in the bank, effectively allowing him to veto decisions.
However, such a construction is impossible under European law because it would conflict with the free movement of capital, Hoekstra told MPs on Tuesday.
The minister said on Monday he is planning to tighten the rules on bankers’ pay in the wake of the row that blew up over ING’s proposal to raise its chief executive’s salary by 50%.
Hoekstra said he was considering three measures aimed at restoring public trust in the banking sector. ING’s board of directors backed down last month on Ralph Hamers’ pay package after facing a backlash from its customers and politicians.
One idea is for bank executives to have to repay part of their salary if the bank is bailed out by the state, so that they take a share of the responsibility. The cabinet is also considering a rule that would force bankers to hold on to any shares they receive for a number of years, to encourage long-term thinking.