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BHP boss tops Australian CEO pay list

Sep 18 2012 07:55 AFP
Marius Kloppers

BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers (AFP)

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Sydney - Marius Kloppers, the head of mining giant BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL], topped the list of Australia's highest paid executives in fiscal 2011, but will this year take a 40% pay cut after refusing his bonus.

A survey analysing executive pay in Australia's top 200 companies found that while Kloppers had statutory pay of Aus$11.8m in 2011, he actually earned Aus$17.3m once other incentives were realised.

But the report released Tuesday found in the five years to 2011 the rate of increase in CEOs' reported pay had slowed, with Kloppers' 2011 statutory pay well below the top earner in 2010 - the Commonwealth Bank's Ralph Norris who was paid Aus$16.2m.

"This decline in statutory pay of very highly paid top 100 CEOs was apparent in the decline in the statutory average pay for a top 10 CEO from Aus$11.56 million in 2010 to Aus$8.983m," the report from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) said.

Results from 2011 show that fixed pay for the executives of the top 100 listed firms had held steady, but bonuses fell materially in the same period.

The ACSI also highlighted the discrepancies between reported pay and what the executives received once deferred bonus shares and other benefits were taken into account.

The largest gap was at Aquila Resources where in 2011 executive chairman Tony Poli had disclosed pay of $572 000 but enjoyed a $169.4m gain on the exercise of options granted in 2005, it said.

The ACSI said while there was still a hangover from pre-global financial crisis days in some huge contracts, it was clear that boards had been "listening to investor view on bonuses in light of company returns".

Kloppers has this year accepted a 40% cut on his salary, forgoing any bonus after BHP wrote down the value of its US shale gas assets by US$2.84bn.

BHP said short-term incentives for other executives were "significantly lower" than in the previous financial year and that, given the prevailing business climate, the base salaries of group management committee had been frozen.

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