Rupert Murdoch tops list of highest paid executives, but pay will fall

Increasing shareholder anger and the credit crunch have all but halted growth in executive pay, according to a new survey of Australia’s highest-paid managers.

Increasing shareholder anger and the credit crunch have all but halted growth in executive pay, according to a new survey of Australia’s highest-paid managers.

According to The Australian Financial Review’s annual salary review, executive salary packages of the top 300 ASX-listed companies averaged $2.97 million, up less than 1% from 2007.

The highest paid executive title is still held by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch, who took home $28.6 million in 2007-08, down 14.3% from last year. Nino Ficca of SPAusNet received the lowest pay, with a package of $1.49 million.

Still, it wasn’t all bad news for our corporate high flyers. Short-term incentives have continued to rise, with bonuses paid to the ASX100 totalling $190 million. A whopping 42 executives received more than $10 million, up from 35 in 2007.

The survey also notes an increase in the number of protest votes being lodged by company shareholders against excessive payouts to managers and directors.

Michael Robinson, co-founder and director of equity firm Guerdon Associates, says executive salaries are definitely on the way down.

“The expectation is that during an economic downturn executive pay may decrease. In 1991-92, we saw executive pay actually decrease, and that was quite a severe change.

“When things are good, it certainly executive remuneration outpaces growth in regular pay-packets, but in the not-so-good times it decreases, which doesn’t usually happen in other sectors. You get swings and roundabouts with executive pay that you don’t get with regular workers’ pay,” Robinson says.

“We expect a slowdown and not much growth. That happened in the 1990s and 1980s and also in the late 1970s. Pay did go backwards, and that will happen again.”

The Top 10:

  1. Rupert Murdoch – News Corp
    Pay: $28.6 million. Change: -14.3%
  2.  Alan Moss – Macquarie Group
    Pay: $24.7 million. Change: -26.1%
  3. Phil Green – Babcock & Brown
    Pay: $22 million. Change: 29.7%
  4. John Alexander – Consolidated Media
    Pay: $19.1 million. Change: 186%
  5. Kim Edwards – Transurban Group
    Pay: $16.6 million. Change: 333%
  6. Wal King – Leighton Holdings
    Pay: $16.4 million. Change: 18.8%
  7. Frank Lowy – Westfield Group
    Pay: $15.8 million. Change: 10.4%
  8. Sol Trujillo – Telstra
    Pay: $13.3 million. Change: 13.7%
  9. Tom Albanese – Rio Tinto
    Pay: $13 million. Change: 284%
  10. Andrew Mohl – AMP
    Pay: $12.1 million. Change: 94.9%

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