Two executives from the Australian mining industry have placed among the top five highest paid company executives in the country.
BHP Billiton’s chief executive Marius Kloppers and Leighton Holdings’ boss Wal King placed fourth and fifth respectively in The Australian Financial Review’s annual analysis of Australian executive salaries.
Kloppers’ total pay package for the financial year was $12.8 million, while King is set to earn $12.5 million.
News of Kloppers’ huge salary, which represented a significant increase on the previous year, caused a very public backlash among BHP union members when it became public in mid-September.
The apparent pay rise was attacked by worker’s unions, who pointed to the loss of thousands of BHP jobs over the previous 12 months as a reason to keep executive salaries lower.
For their part, BHP defended the salary, with a spokesperson at the time telling MINING DAILY that there were various reasons for the improved salary, including standard company increases and the maturation of long term investments and incentive plans.
Significant controversy has also been attached King’s annual salary.
In the face of shareholder unhappiness with his pay package, King unexpectedly blamed the huge amount on incoming US executives driving up Australia management salaries.
“About all I can say to you is that it won’t be any high-flying American parachuted in at outrageous salaries that make mine look like chicken feed,” he said last week at his company’s annual shareholder meeting in Sydney.
“I think all they in fact have done is ratchet up the salaries for guys like me.”
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch topped the Australian executive salary list, with an total income of $24.5 million.