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Santander top brass to get up to 330 million euros in bonuses

News follows government criticism of share-out among Telefónica directors

Leading Spanish bank Santander said Tuesday it would put an employee bonus scheme worth up to a maximum of around 400 million euros in shares to a vote by shareholders at their annual general meeting on June 17.

The bonus system comprises four different schemes, including one for employees at its UK division. All of the bonus plans are subject to conditions and entail deferred payments.

The top 250 executives will receive shares in the bank worth up to a maximum of 165 million euros. Given that half of the bonuses is paid in cash, the maximum amount set aside for Santander's leading managers is 330 million euros.

The system calls for payment of 60 percent of the bonuses of top executives to be deferred over three years. The amount to be deferred by division managers is 50 percent and 40 percent for the rest of employees entitled to a bonus. Santander also imposed an embargo of one year on the sale of shares received as part of bonuses.

The deferred part of the bonus is conditioned to employees remaining with Santander and the financial performance of the bank, among other things.

Last month, government ministers criticized telecoms giant Telefónica for announcing a scheme that will pay senior executives some 450 million eurosin bonuses over the next few years shortly after unveiling plans to lay off some 5,600 workers in Spain.