Australia’s 10 highest paid CEOs: David Gyngell leads the pack

By Karen Coombs and Cara Waters

The chief executives of Australia’s 300 largest sharemarket-listed companies raked in an average of $2,875,878, according to The Australian Financial Review’s study of executive pay packets published today.

The average earnings were skewed significantly by the big pay packets of the top 10 chief executives, led by Nine Entertainment boss David Gyngell.

Here are the top 10 chief executive pay packets:

1. David Gyngell, Nine Entertainment: $19.5 million

Gyngell tops this year’s list with a salary surpassing those of the chief executives at the big four banks, Wesfarmers and Rio Tinto. Incentives earned successfully leading Nine out its financial woes easily placed him as the highest paid executive in the country. Gyngell was famously involved in a punch-up this year with billionaire James Packer outside Packer’s Bondi home and photos were spread across the Australian newspapers.

2. Kevin Chin, Arowana International: $13.35 million

The chief executive of little-known investment group Arowana International shows you don’t have to work for a billion-dollar multinational to earn big money. With the company’s market value at just $155 million, Chin received a whopping $13.3 million this year. His actual wage was only $30,000 but the extra cash flowed from a massive short-term incentive dependent on the company selling off 75% of one of its subsidiaries.

3. Robert Thomson, News Corp: $13.22 million

New to the list is News Corp’s Robert Thomson, chief executive of over 10 companies which floated in 2013-14. He earned $13.2 million with more than half made up of long-term share incentives. Thomson was made chief executive of News Corp’s publishing division in December 2012. He began as a cadet with the Herald and Weekly Times in 1979 and worked his way up writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Financial Times and edited The Times of London.

4. Nicholas Moore, Macquarie: $13.08 million

Nicholas Moore has been managing director and chief executive of Macquarie since May 2008. In May this year the head of the “millionaires factory” received a 49% increase in pay. He led Macquarie Group to a 49% increase in profit this year, reaching $1.3 billion.

5. Louis Gries, James Hardie Industries: $12.35 million

Louis Gries was appointed chief executive in February 2005 and since 2012 he has been responsible for managing the US business. His salary nearly doubled from last year, increasing by 44%.

6. Michael Yeager, Maverick Drilling and Exploration: $11.86 million

The former head of BHP Billiton Ltd’s oil and gas division joined Maverick Drilling and Exploration as chief executive in 2013. Yeager was responsible for leading BHP’s $20 billion move into the US. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, Yeager will acquire $15 million worth of Maverick shares and $10 million in performance rights subject to shareholder approval.

7. Gail Kelly, Westpac: $10.98 million

Gail Kelly became the first female chief executive of a major Australian bank in 2002 and for a long time has been one of the few women occupying executive roles in large corporations. After a long career in banking, Kelly will step down from her position as chief executive of Westpac from February 2015. This year’s pay packet means she won’t be struggling for cash in her retirement.

8. Michael Smith, ANZ: $10.7 million

ANZ chief executive Michael Smith received a 3.7% pay rise this year with a total salary of $10.7 million after bonus payments. Smith is known for his emphasis on technology and was the first chief executive of an Australian listed company to join LinkedIn influencers last year.

9. Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto: $9.76 million

Sam Walsh has been the director of Rio Tinto since 2009 and was appointed chief executive in January 2013. He has enjoyed a 6% increase in his pay from last year.

10. Richard Goyder, Wesfarmers: $9.4 million

The managing director of Wesfarmers Richard Goyder, had a 9% increase this year. He presides over a company that most Australian shoppers have contact with at some point. Among its brands are Coles supermarkets, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, first CHOICE liquor, Target, Kmart, Officeworks and the Bunnings home improvement chain.

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