Australia has been plunged into deepest economic contraction since the great depression, but that hasn’t stopped the nation’s CEO from scoring pay rises.
Australia has been plunged into deepest economic contraction since the great depression, but that hasn’t stopped the nation’s CEO from scoring pay rises.

The CEOs banking whopping pay rises during the pandemic

Australia's corporate chiefs continue to book juicy pay rises despite the nation suffering its deepest economic contraction since the great depression.

Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn, Coles' Steven Cain, James Hardie Industries' Jack Truong and BHP boss Mike Henry all collected bumper pay rises of more than 25 per cent in the year to June.

The pay days came as the coronavirus pandemic shut down large sections of the economy and plunged the nation into its first recession since 1991.

The Herald Sun analysed the pay details of the 20 largest companies listed on the stock market that have released their 2019-20 remuneration reports.

Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn.
Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn.

The companies, which have a combined market value of more than $850b, showered $122.9m on their chiefs during the period.

That was 2 per cent higher than the $120.5m paid out in 2018-19 with the average pay and perks deal weighing in at $6.15m.

Twelve of the companies rewarded their chief with a pay rise with the average increase totalling $1.24m.

These included BHP, CSL, Commonwealth Bank, Fortescue Metals, Macquarie Group, Coles, Afterpay, Brambles, Australian Securities Exchange, James Hardie, APA Group and Suncorp.

James Hardie's Mr Truong was the biggest winner as his remuneration soared 54 per cent to $US6.07m ($8.29m).

BHP CEO Mike Henry.
BHP CEO Mike Henry.

Coles chief Steven Cain took home $6.96m in pay and perks in 2019-20, up 29 per cent on his 2018-19 haul.

CBA's Mr Comyn was not far behind with his pay jumping 28.5 per cent to $5.68m.

The remuneration of BHP's Mr Henry jumped 28 per cent to $US4.7m ($6.4m), although it came as he was promoted to the top job at the mining titan.

 

Coles chief Steven Cain. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Coles chief Steven Cain. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

Companies which cut the pay of their chiefs included Woolworths, Transurban, Goodman Group, Telstra, Newcrest, Ramsay Healthcare, REA Group and Cochlear.

Ramsay chief Craig McNally saw his pay plunge by more than 70 per cent to $1.94m as profit at the nation's biggest private hospital operator halved as elective surgeries were postponed.

Transurban boss Scott Charlton had his pay cut by 42 per cent to $4.6m as the CityLink-owner posted a $153m full-year loss.

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors chief Louise Davidson said major investors expected to see restraint on executive pay - particularly bonuses - given the extent of the economic pain being felt across the community

"Boards of ASX200 companies will need to seriously consider how remuneration outcomes will be perceived externally, given the widespread impact of the pandemic on investors, staff, customers, governments and other key stakeholders," Ms Davidson said.

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Originally published as The CEOs banking whopping pay rises during the pandemic


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