Top chiefs reap big pay harvest
THE nation’s 10 highest paid corporate chiefs collectively reaped $70 million more in pay and perks above the figures published in the latest annual reports, a study has found.
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors has found the 10 highest paid chief executives reported a combined $99.6 million in pay and perks on a statutory basis for the 2014 financial year.
But they pocketed $171.4 million when remuneration arrangements, such as stock options, performance rights and the vesting of shares under long-term incentive schemes, were taken into account. The findings, to be released today, were commissioned by ACSI and carried out by governance advisory group Ownership Matters. They follow Ansell’s move yesterday to shake up the way it pays its executives after the board complained it was being short-changed by a falling US dollar.
According to the ACSI report, Ramsay Health Care chief Chris Rex was the nation’s highest paid boss in fiscal 2014 with realised remuneration weighing in at an eyewatering $30.8 million.
This was three times higher than the statutory figure of $9.1 million reported in the private hospital operator’s annual report.
Westfield co-chiefs Peter and Steven Lowy were second in the pay stakes on a reported and realised basis. The broth- ers picked up $22.1 million on a reported basis and $24.4 million on a realised basis.
Seek co-founder Andrew Bassat had the greatest dispar
ity between reported and actual pay. Mr Bassat reaped almost $18 million in 2013-14, mostly via share options, against a reported $4.2 million.
Sonic Healthcare’s Colin Goldschmidt, James Hardie’s Louis Gries, BHP Billiton’s Andrew Mackenzie and Insurance Australia Group’s Mike Wilkins were other top 10 earners with sizeable differences between their reported and realised pay.
At the other end of the scale, Veda Advantage chief Nerida Caesar’s reported pay was listed at $8.3 million but the head of the data analytics company took home $2.8 million. ACSI chief Louise David- son said the figures suggested the existing requirements for reporting executive pay might significantly understate the rewards received in a given year.
“Statutory reporting is, perhaps, disclosing only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the wealth accruing to senior executives,” Ms Davidson said.
“While the packaging and disclosure of CEO pay has undoubtedly become more disciplined thanks to legislation like ‘two strikes’ and termination pay, as well as challenging scrutiny from ACSI and others, company investors and owners cannot afford to lose sight of the quantum of reward being delivered.”