Alcatel-Lucent shareholders make it easier to fire CEO

Shareholders of voted to make it easier to fire CEO Patricia Russo, whose 18 month term at the head of the firm has seen its stock plunge by half and a string of profit warnings issued, an Associated Press report said.

In an annual meeting in Paris full of jeers and whistling, shareholders of the Franco-US company also voted to link Russo's severance benefits to performance, the report said.

The two years salary to which Russo is entitled if her contract is terminated will now depend on revenue reaching 90% of the company's performance targets and operating profit reaching 75%.

Her removal, and that of chairman Serge Tchuruk, will now be possible by the vote of a simple majority of the board. Previously, a vote of two-thirds of the board was required, a condition set to enable stability of senior management at the time of the merger of Alcatel and Lucent in February 2006, the report said.

Russo was criticized by shareholders not only for the shares' slide, but also for her demeanor, her elegance, her lack of French and, above all, her salary, the report said.

In 2007, she was paid €1.8 million (US$2.79 million) including benefits.

One shareholder, who did not say her name, called it 'shameful.' Another said he had lost 'the fruits of my life's work.'

Chants for Russo to resign swept the hall.

Russo said she understands shareholders disappointment. As a 'considerable' shareholder, she said she has also been affected and is 'very invested in this company.'