Investors pay high price for Australian CEO departures

Nearly $A30 million in payouts to departing chief executives (CEOs) helped to increase the pay of the 300 highest-earning Australian CEOs by 5%, who for the first time will receive an average pay packet of more than $3 million a year, according to The Australian Financial Review Salary Survey 2015.

The publication reports that the average CEO’s pay packet is now more than 50 times the average Australian salary while the 5% rise comes despite the ASX 200 closing up just 1.2 per cent higher for the financial year and as wage growth drops to its lowest level on record.

The survey claims that investors have paid a high price for CEO departures, as 31 of the top-paid 300 CEOs retired. At the top of the list of highly paid CEOs was the former head of Amcor, Ken MacKenzie, who retired after 10 years in the job on $A20.92 million. MacKenzie more than doubled his pay from 2014 thanks mainly to long-term incentives worth $A13.7 million. Other CEOs who retired with multimillion-dollar golden handshakes included former CIMIC (formerly Leighton) CEO Hamish Tyrwhitt, the third-highest paid CEO on $A15.42 million; Ten’s Hamish McLennan on $A8.04 million; Telstra’s David Thodey on $A7.78 million; and Myer’s Bernie Brookes on $A4.25 million.

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