The French government will oppose a EUR3.2m (US$4.4m) severance payment [aka ‘golden parachute’] for departing Valeo ’s chairman and chief executive Thierry Morin.

French media said the decision to make the payment to Morin, whose departure was announced on Monday, has started a fresh row over executive perks at crisis-hit firms.

The French newspaper Liberation reported the payment today.

Government spokesman Luc Chatel said the state, which owns 8% of the supplier, “will oppose the payment of this golden parachute at the shareholders’ assembly,” Agence France-Presse (AFP ) said.

“The state has helped this firm and I find this kind of remuneration shocking in the current climate,” Chatel told Europe 1 radio, calling on Morin to “accept his share of responsibility”.

Valeo lost EUR207m in 2008 after sales plunged 27% in the fourth quarter and, last December, said it planned to cut 5,000 jobs this year, including 1,600 in France. Morin ruled out renegotiating the layoff plan early this month, AFP noted.

Liberation said Morin’s contract stipulates that he is entitled to a payment equal to twice his annual salary if he leaves the firm over a strategic divergence [the reason given yesterday for his departure], Liberation said.