Nissan's Ghosn remains Japan's top-paid CEO

Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:33pm EDT
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By Yoko Kubota

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) - Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote), told shareholders on Tuesday he was paid a salary and bonus of 987 million yen ($12.5 million) for the past fiscal year, a package that makes him Japan's highest-paid executive.

Ghosn has led Nissan since 2001 and steered the automaker through a turbulent 2011 that saw it bounce back faster than its domestic rivals Toyota Motor Corp(7203.T: Quote) and Honda Motor Co(7267.T: Quote) from disruptions caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Although Ghosn's 0.5 percent pay rise for the past year put him just short of becoming the first CEO of a Japanese company to be paid more than 1 billion yen, investors have been far more concerned with his tenure than the terms of his compensation.

Nissan has justified the higher pay for Ghosn and other Nissan executives by saying they should be compared to compensation packages for CEOs at other big, global industrial companies including Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote), rather than the lower pay for Japanese CEOs who tend to have come up through the ranks over a career.

"Recruiting and retaining these best and brightest is a competitive advantage that we cannot afford to lose," Ghosn told an annual shareholders' meeting in Yokohama.

The disclosed compensation for Ghosn does not include stock options he was granted in the Japanese automaker. Those will be disclosed later this week, a spokesman said.

The tally also does not include his compensation as head of Nissan's alliance partner, Renault SA (RENA.PA: Quote).

Nissan said its board had weighed cash compensation for Ghosn against pay for CEOs at other major industrial companies with global operations based on advice from consulting firm Towers Watson.   Continued...

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Nissan and Renault, holds a toy car of the Nissan as he poses for a picture before an interview with Reuters in Tokyo June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon