Bosses take bigger share of top British firms' profits

Fri May 6, 2016 10:47am EDT
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By Tom Bergin, Simon Jessop and Sinead Cruise

LONDON (Reuters) - Chief executives at Britain's largest companies had a pay cut last year. But profits fell further, ensuring a decade-long trend of bosses taking a rising share of corporate profits continued.

The average pay for chief executives of a company in the blue chip FTSE 100 index was 5.23 million pounds ($7.6 million)last year, down from 5.36 million in 2014, a Reuters examination of corporate filings shows.

However, FTSE 100 profits fell over 40 percent, helping to lift CEOs' earnings to the equivalent of 0.58 percent of their companies' total profits for the year, from 0.32 percent in 2014.

This represents a leap over the past decade. In 2005, CEO compensation, including pensions and share awards, was just 0.1 percent of pre-tax earnings, the Reuters analysis of annual reports over the period shows.

Rapid growth in executive pay has long drawn criticism from some politicians and media headlines denouncing corporate "fat cats". Now shareholders are increasingly raising their concerns, notably over a bumper deal for BP Plc's (BP.L: Quote) boss Bob Dudley as the oil giant reported its biggest ever annual loss.

Measured against share prices, the balance of gains and losses has also tipped in CEOs' favor.

The FTSE 100 index dropped around five percent last year but CEO pay at the component stocks fell only 2 percent. Between 2005 and the end of 2015, the index gained almost 30 percent, while CEO pay doubled at the 87 current FTSE companies where comparable data is available.

Executive pay consultants say UK packages are well above continental European levels but fall short of those in the United States.   Continued...

BP's Chief Executive Bob Dudley speaks to the media after year-end results were announced at the energy company's headquarters in London February 1, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo