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US firms face votes on pay

US TREASURY secretary Timothy Geithner has promised new laws to force listed firms to put the pay packages of top executives to shareholder votes, although the results will not be binding. <br /><br />Geithner said shareholder-owned firms will have to hold &ldquo;say on pay&rdquo; votes over pay packages, following the public fury over so-called &ldquo;fat cat&rdquo; bonuses for executives at firms that have racked up massive losses and made workers redundant. <br /><br />But he stopped short of imposing rules forcing firms to cap executive pay levels, suggesting this may be &ldquo;counterproductive&rdquo;. <br /><br />Hinting at a wider framework for ensuring executive pay must be tied to future financial performance, he said existing practice was a &ldquo;contributing factor&rdquo; to the credit crunch.<br /><br />This came as President Obama named a &ldquo;pay tsar&rdquo; empowered with vetting the pay packages of the top 100 executives at the seven firms that have received a state bailout. Obama has picked Kenneth Feinburg, formerly head of the fund that compensated victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.<br /><br />Bailed-out Bank of America, Citigroup, AIG and Gmac and failed carmaker Chrysler and its Chrysler Financial arm will face salary vetting.