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23 March 2021

Former Heineken CEO van Boxmeer received millions upon departure

The Netherlands | Media huffed and puffed over Jean-François van Boxmeer’s high severance payment, which he received from the brewer upon his departure.

Mr van Boxmeer, 59, who stepped down as Heineken’s CEO in June 2020 after 15 years, received a total severance bonus of EUR 5.5 million (USD 6.6 million), according to the Dutch brewer’s 2020 annual report.

Under the leadership of Mr van Boxmeer, who joined Heineken in 1984, turnover grew from EUR 11 billion when he took office in 2005, to more than EUR 28 billion (USD 32 billion) in 2019. Mr Van Boxmeer has since become Chairman of Vodafone, while being succeeded as CEO of Heineken by Dolf van den Brink.

Deviating from the Tabaksblad code

As explains the newssite Nederlandsdagblad (www.nd.nl), severance payments have been restricted at Dutch listed companies for years. Mr van Boxmeer’s departure bonus far exceeds the Tabaksblat code from 2003. This corporate governance code, drawn up by the Tabaksblat committee, states that a departing director may receive no more than one annual salary. Deviations from the code are allowed, provided a company explains why.

According to Heineken, the agreements with Mr van Boxmeer date from before 2003, that is even before he became CEO, so the code does not apply.