Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Toyota boss’ pay hike of 35% leaves him trailing

AFP, TOKYO

Toyota president Akio Toyoda announces its financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31 during a news conference in Tokyo on May 8.

Photo: EPA

The boss of the world’s biggest automaker, Toyota, saw his pay packet swell by a third last year, filings showed yesterday, but to a level that sees him still earning only a fraction of his overseas counterparts.

The Japanese auto giant paid its chief Akio Toyoda a total of ¥184 million (US$1.86 million) in salary and bonuses, according to a filing from Japan’s Financial Services Agency yesterday. Toyoda’s remuneration also includes dividends from shares he owns in the company.

His salary was up about 35 percent from the previous 12 months after overseeing a tripling of net profit in the latest fiscal year to March, to ¥962.1 billion. Toyota shares rose by about one-third over the same period.

Carlos Ghosn, head of rival Nissan, Japan’s No. 2 automaker, retained his ranking as possibly Japan’s best-paid CEO, raking in ¥988 million in the fiscal year to March. That was a modest 0.1 percent rise from a year earlier, shareholders were told at the company’s annual meeting yesterday. Investors voted to keep him on for another two-year term.

“Companies must employ and retain top leaders,” Ghosn told investors last year in response to questions on his pay package.

Ghosn has been credited with rescuing Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy, frequently cited as the reason for his above-average pay.

However, even his handsome package was overshadowed by his counterparts in the US where Ford chief executive Alan Mulally was paid US$21 million last year, while General Motors’ chief Dan Akerson received US$11.1 million, US media has reported.

Pay packages for Japanese executives — and the salary gap between a firm’s lowest and highest-paid workers — tends to be a fraction of levels seen in North America and Europe, where top pay has attracted growing criticism.

In April, shareholders in Swiss private bank Julius Baer rejected the bank’s plan for executive compensation in a non-binding vote, amid outrage over huge pay packages.

That came just a month after Swiss voters massively came out in favor of a new law limiting executive pay and bonuses, among various measures taken across Europe to shrink CEO pay.

Also, earlier this year, a government auditor blasted the US Treasury for approving high levels of top-level pay at firms bailed out in the financial crisis.

In Japan, CEO compensation of around US$1 million or less is not uncommon while some executives take pay or bonus cuts if the firm has not performed. Last month, Sony said dozens of senior executives would give up their bonuses this year to atone for a slump in its embattled electronics unit.

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