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Corporate chiefs getting crores in salaries: 100 and counting!

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 13 Jun 10 | 06:51 PM

Calls for reining in astronomical salaries for corporate head honchos notwithstanding, the number of top management personnel getting a pay package running into crores of rupees has crossed the century mark, and the data flow has just started.

Out of more than 4,500 listed companies in the country, about 175 entities have so far disclosed the last pay package for their CEOs and other top management personnel, which includes 60 companies having paid in crores to one or more of their top executives.

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So far, there are 105 top management personnel who were paid annual remunerations in crores of rupees during the last fiscal, ended March, 2010, or December, 2009.

The list is topped by media baron Kalanithi Maran and wife Kaveri Kalanithi with total remuneration of a little over Rs 37 crore each in the fiscal ended March, 2010. This is despite the two capping their collective salary at Rs 74.16 crore, about 22 per cent below their entitlement of Rs 94.8 crore for the year.

Maran, the Managing Director of Sun TV Network, and wife Kaveri, joint MD, opted to limit their remuneration for 2009-10 to Rs 74.16 crore, the same paid to them in the last fiscal.

The list also includes Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani, who has also taken a voluntary pay cut and still figures among the highest paid so far with Rs 15 crore, less than half of what he is eligible for. Four other executives from the same company earned in crores during the year.

While Ambani capped his salary at Rs 15 crore for the second straight year, three RIL executive directors -- P M S Prasad, Hital Meswani and Nikhil Meswani -- saw their remuneration rise to Rs 1.53 crore, Rs 11.14 crore and Rs 11.14 crore, respectively.

"The Chairman and Managing Director's compensation has been set at Rs 15 crore as against Rs 39.36 crore that he is eligible as per the shareholders' approval, reflecting his desire to set a personal example for moderation in managerial compensation levels," RIL said in its annual report, the document where all listed companies disclose payouts to top management.

The remuneration paid to another RIL director, H S Kohli declined from Rs 1.35 crore to Rs 1.32 crore, but he is no longer associated with the company and resigned on May 16.

At a time when there is a raging debate on right-sizing CEO salaries, RIL had announced in October last year that Mukesh Ambani would take a pay cut as a result of which his pay package dropped to Rs 15 crore for the 2008-09 fiscal from over Rs 44 crore in 2007-08. Mukesh Ambani was the top-paid executive in India during 2007-08.

Days before Ambani's decision, Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had advised the industry to shun "vulgar" salaries and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had also agreed there should be no "indecent" compensation.

At that time, the company had also decided to adopt the capped structure method of deciding executive compensation in RIL, instead of pegging it as a percentage of net profit.

While a number of other companies also announced voluntary pay cuts for their senior executives, with some like Anil Ambani foregoing entire salaries at their group companies, the numbers coming to light for the 2009-10 fiscal are still large when it comes to high remuneration paid to top executives.

Besides RIL and Sun TV, the companies which paid crores-worth of salaries to their top executives include JSW Steel, Patni Computers, Ranbaxy, Hindustan Construction, HDFC Bank, Sobha Developers, Infosys, IndusInd Bank, ACC, GlaxosmithKline Pharma, Crisil, Raymond, Sterlite Industries, Development Credit Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Nestle India, Yes Bank and Rallis India.

However, this list could grow much bigger, as the companies have just started filing their annual reports, wherein they would disclose the salaries of top executives.

So far, among the 175 persons who were paid salaries running into crores, 34 worked at Indian private entities and 22 with subsidiaries of MNCs.

In terms of total payout, those who got a salary in excess of Rs 10 crore include JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and MD Sajjan Jindal (Rs 14.25 crore) and Patni Computers CEO Jeya Kumar (Rs 12.19 crore), besides the Marans and three RIL executives (Mukesh Ambani, Hital Meswani and Nikhi Meswani).

They are followed by Ranbaxy CEO Atul Sobti (Rs 7.62 crore), Sterlite Executive Vice-Chairman Navin Aggarwal (Rs 6.68 crore) and HCC Chairman and MD Ajit Gulabchand (Rs 6.11 crore).

Other prominent executives on the list include HDFC Bank MD Aditya Puri (Rs 3.4 crore), JSW Steel Joint MD & CFO Seshagiri Rao (Rs 2.91 crore), Crisil MD & CEO Roopa Kudva (Rs 1.9 crore) and Axis Bank MD & CEO Shikha Sharma (Rs 1.52 crore).

There are also four ICICI Bank top executives -- MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar (Rs 2.09 crore) and directors K Ramkumar (Rs 1.55 crore), Sandeep Bakshi (Rs 1.54 crore) and N S Kannan (Rs 1.27 crore).

There are also four from IT major Infosys -- directors T V Mohandas Pai (Rs 3.13 crore), Srinath Batni (Rs 2.41 crore) and K Dinesh (Rs 1.01 crore) and MD & CEO S Gopalakrishnan (Rs 1.01 crore).

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