Aman Mehta Earns Most from Six Firms
Aman Mehta, former HSBC Asia Pacific CEO is next. Mehta, 69, got Rs 2.3 crore for being on the board of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the country’s leading IT outsourcing company. Ron Sommer, chairman of MTS, former Sebi chairman M Damodaran and banker KV Kamath tie for the third spot with their earnings of about Rs 2 crore each from a single ecompany in fiscal 2015. The 66-year-old German citizen serves on the board of TCS and Damodaran, 66, is on the board of Tech Mahindra. KV Kamath was on the board of Infosys between 2009 and 2015.
Succeeding the trio is Albert Joseph Hieronimus, 68, who got Rs 1.72 crore for being on the board of Bengalurubased software firm MindTree. Next is Clayton Magleby Christensen. The 63-year-old Christensen, best known as the architect of disruptive innovation, earned Rs 1.55 crore as an outside director of TCS. He’s followed by fellow American scholar Jeffrey Sean Lehman, 59, who got Rs 1.20 crore as an external director at Infosys.
Robin Ann Abrams, 64, is the highestpaid foreign woman independent director at an Indian company. The former CEO of US-based Palm Computing earned nearly Rs 1crore from being on the board of HCL Technologies.
“Companies don't bring well-known directors on board for cosmetic reasons but these people add tremendous value in terms of their well-rounded international experience, understanding of specialised sectors and the dynamic regulatory environment,” said R Suresh, MD of RGF Executive Search.
Independent directors are paid sitting fees and commissions. Sitting fe- es don’t amount to much while commissions are more substantial. Commission paid to an independent director, as per the Companies Act, can’t exceed 5% of profit at a listed company. In fiscal 2015, Verwaayen got Rs 2.41 crore as commission and Rs 7 lakh in sitting fees while Mehta got Rs 2.28 crore as commission and Rs 1. 5 lakh in sitting fees. The rules don’t allow non-executive directors to get stock options, by the way. Sunit Mehra, managing partner of executive search company Hunt Partners, pointed out that increased scrutiny—United Spirits being a case in point—means that an independent director’s job is hardly a cushy one.
“Being a director on a listed board is an onerous task, with significant liabilities. Also, to effectively contribute and discharge responsibilities requires a lot more time than just the time spent in board meetings. All of this merits a suitable compensation for the director,” he said.
When it comes to those with multiple independent directorships at Indian companies, the list is headed by Mehta. He earned Rs 3.87 crore from being on the board of six companies including TCS, Jet Airways, Cairn and Wockhardt. Mehta is followed by Damodaran (Rs 3.20 crore from six companies), economist Omkar Goswami (Rs 3.07 crore from seven companies) and ex-State Bank of India managing director OP Bhatt (Rs 2.75 crore from four companies).
India’s securities market rules mandate that a person can be an independent director at a maximum seven listed companies. Independent directors, according to Hunt Partners, dedicate nearly nine days in a year to each board on which they serve as a member.