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Bombardier board approves proposal to cut chairman's pay

FILE PHOTO: Pierre Beaudoin, Executive Chairman of Bombardier Inc., speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc said its board of directors approved a proposal to slash Executive Chairman Pierre Beaudoin's pay by $1.4 million, bringing his 2016 compensation to $3.8 million, equal to his remuneration for 2015.

The move comes after Beaudoin asked the board to reset his compensation as the rise in pay had "become a distraction" from the company's regular work.

The Canadian plane and train maker has faced a backlash over its executives' pay rises, which come after Bombardier announced two rounds of layoffs in 2016 totaling 14,500 people over two years at sites around the world.

Total compensation for the company's top five executives and board chairman rose to $32.7 million in 2016, up from $21.9 million a year earlier, according to a proxy circular published ahead of Bombardier's May 11 annual meeting.

Bombardier, which has received more than $1 billion in federal and provincial government aid since 2015, awarded its top five executives and board chairman raises of up to 50 percent for 2016.

The pay hikes sparked protests outside Bombardier's Montreal headquarters last week and calls by opposition leaders for a company freeze on executive compensation, with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau criticizing the planned pay hikes for its senior executives.

In addition, Chief Executive Alain Bellemare last week requested the board to defer the payment of more than half of the total planned 2016 compensation for its six named executive officers until 2020.

The company also said the deferred compensation will only be payable if Bombardier achieves performance goals that position it for long term success.

(Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)