The Courier-Mail

Top chiefs reap big pay harvest

- JOHN DAGGE

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.”

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