Directors’ remunerations frequently provide for juicy fodder in a company’s annual report. African Oxygen (Afrox’s) most recent document is no different. The gases and welding products giant dominates the South African market but is increasingly finding its position compromised due to price-cutting competitors. Afrox has had a difficult time financially, with revenue and earnings (EBITDA) having declined for the fourth consecutive year but it’s spending more on its executive pay packages.
The total remuneration paid to the group’s directors – six non-executives and four executives – over its 2010 financial year was R17,5m, which strikes us as a surprising figure, given 2009’s comparative number of R9,4m and the fact that the group itself admitted it had “endured setbacks in recent times, all of which have been reflected in the bottom line” (Financial director’s review 2010). Yet all increases and rewards are performance-based, according to the chapter in the report devoted to human resources. The biggest time-comparable increase was borne by MD Tjaart Kruger, who received a 45% increase on his R5,2m total salary in 2009.
Also interesting is that Afrox cut staff over the period. According to its value-added statement for 2010, the number of permanent employees at the group was reduced to 3 434 from 3 558 in the previous year, while the number of short-term and contracted workers shrunk from 119 in 2009 to 46 in 2010, meaning revenue per average permanent employee increased by 9%.