Australia’s best paid bosses and CEOs: Greg Goodman tops list with $30m despite taking pay cut

Sean Smith
The Nightly
Australia’s top paid CEO raked in $30 million last year despite taking a pay cut.
Australia’s top paid CEO raked in $30 million last year despite taking a pay cut. Credit: Summit Art Creations - stock.adobe.com

Australia’s highest-paid company boss pocketed nearly $30 million last year — despite taking a pay cut.

Greg Goodman, the founder of industrial property group Goodman Group, received $27.3 million in 2023 to top the ranks of the country’s best paid chief executives, ahead of Macquarie Group’s Shemara Wikramanayake with $25.3m, according to the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors’ annual pay report to be released on Friday.

Two other ASX200 bosses received more — sleep disorder group ResMed’s Mick Farrell with $47.58m, or more than $130,000 a day, and News Corp’s Robert Thomson on $41.53m. However, both live overseas.

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Seven CEOs took home more than $10m in the 2022-23 financial year, with Wesfarmers’ Rob Scott — WA’s highest-paid boss with $9.5m — just outside the group in 8th position.

The top 10 included BHP’s Mike Henry on $19.7m and Commonwealth Bank’s Matt Comyn and Rio Tinto’s Jakob Stausholm on $10.5m each. Woolworths’ Brad Banducci was in 11th spot with $7.9m and Santos’ Kevin Gallagher came was 16th on $7.1m.

With weaker commodity prices hitting the share prices of WA’s miners last year, the State’s mining bosses didn’t pocket as much as in previous years.

Chalice Mining’s Alex Dorsch, who was credited with $17.9m in 2022 after exercising free or cheap performance rights into the company’s rising share price, pocketed just $4.8m last year, ACSI said.

However, Liontown Resources’ Tony Ottaviano took home $5.5m after his equity incentives leapt in value as the lithium play’s share price doubled on the back of takeover interest.

ACSI used its analysis to again call out its concerns that bonuses have become “a given” for ASX200 bosses, with payments seemingly unrelated to company performance.

The group examined the pay deals of 145 CEOs. Of the 141 eligible for a bonus, just 11 didn’t get one, “confirming yet again that a CEO has more chance of losing their job than (not) receiving a bonus”, ACSI said.

Of those who pocketed a bonus, more than half received 60 per cent of the maximum on offer.

“It’s questionable whether the consistency of these payments aligns with the shareholder experience,” ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said.

“The record 41 strikes against ASX300 companies’ remuneration reports in 2023 suggests that many investors also have serious doubts.”

The realised, or take-home, pay data used by ACSI takes account of the value of stock awarded as bonuses when it vests, even if the shares and options were granted in previous years.

It is a more accurate measure of actual remuneration, capturing the market value of vested stock. However it is not disclosed by most companies. Instead, they report statutory pay, which records the accounting value of stock.

Subsequently, there is often a big variance between the two measures.

However, the ACSI data suggests company boards continue to set tougher hurdles on CEO pay because of increased investor and community scrutiny in recent years.

Average ASX100 pay fell again last year, to $5m from $5.3m, having peaked at $5.6m five years earlier.

“The importance of investor scrutiny is also apparent from the finding that ASX100 CEO fixed and cash pay remains static,” Ms Davidson said. “These components of CEO pay attract scrutiny from investors because they often have the least correlation with shareholder returns.”

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