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Ghosn to top executive pay scale again

Bloomberg

Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn earned more than ¥1 billion last year, putting him on track to become the best-paid Japan executive for the fourth time in five years.

Ghosn was paid ¥995 million in salary and bonuses for the fiscal year that ended March 31, an increase of 0.7 percent from a year earlier, he said at the carmaker’s annual shareholders’ meeting Tuesday in Yokohama. Including dividends, his total compensation rises to more than ¥1 billion.

The 60-year-old, who is among the few foreigners leading a Japanese company, earned more than five times what Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda did in 2012, despite running an automaker with about a third the profit. Last year, Ghosn steered Nissan to the smallest profit increase among Japanese automakers aside from Daihatsu Motor Co., hurt by increased U.S. incentive spending and recall costs.

“I understand the sensitivity of the issue,” Ghosn said. “Being in Japan should not be a handicap to attract talent. We need the best minds, we need the best talents.”

Ghosn, who is also CEO of Renault SA, was the top-paid executive in Japan in three of the four years since 2010, when the Financial Services Agency began requiring disclosures by publicly traded companies of compensation exceeding ¥100 million, according to Tokyo Shoko Research.

In 2012, Ghosn earned ¥988 million, compared with ¥184 million for Toyota’s president and ¥145 million for Honda Motor Co. President Takanobu Ito.

The gap in compensation between Ghosn and Toyoda narrows if dividends are taken into consideration.

Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, received about ¥757 million in the 2013 fiscal year from the carmaker that bears his family name. Ghosn, by comparison, collected about ¥93 million in dividends. Toyota may disclose its president’s salary as early as this week.

“Toyoda is a big shareholder, directly and indirectly,” said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp., which manages about $3 billion in assets.

Despite being the best-paid executive leading a Japanese company, Ghosn is out-earned by his peers at American and European automakers.

The average compensation in 2013 for CEOs at comparable global automakers rose 5 percent to $17.2 million, Nissan said, citing an analysis of public data compiled by consulting firm Towers Watson.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally earned about $23 million in 2013, more than double Ghosn’s compensation, according to Equilar Inc., an executive-pay researcher. General Motors Co. chief Mary Barra, who started the job this year, may receive total compensation of $14.4 million, GM said in February.

In Europe, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was paid €15 million ($20 million) in 2013, while Daimler AG’s Dieter Zetsche received €8.25 million. Renault paid about €2.3 million to Ghosn last year.