The bosses of the 30 largest Swiss listed companies received an average salary of CHF6.4 million ($6.7 million) in 2014. Top executive salaries have not fallen since 2012 despite the passage of an initiative calling for more oversight.
According to a salary survey by the Swiss News Agency, Steven Newman, the former CEO of oil and gas exploration firm Transocean, was the highest paid executive in Switzerland in 2014. With a pay package worth CHF1.18 million a month, Newman overtook 2013 pay leader Joe Jimenez of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. However, despite his substantial compensation, Newman and the company’s board of directors mutually agreed that he should step down as Transocean’s CEO in February this year.
The company owns 71 mobile offshore drilling units and has offices in Zug and Geneva. Transocean was ordered by a US court to pay $400 million in fines after its rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 causing what is widely known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Top executive compensation has fallen considerably since its peak. For example, former Credit Suisse boss Brady Dougan took home nearly CHF90 million in 2010. In 2014 he had to be content with CHF9.7 million.
However, salaries have not fallen significantly since 2012, despite the Swiss people voting in favour of the March 2013 “Minder” initiative that demanded more oversight over remuneration of company executives and directors. For the past three years, the top four highest-paid CEOs have always received between CHF11 and CHF14 million.
Of the 25 companies surveyed, 18 had increased the amount paid to their CEOs, five of them quite significantly. Only eight had reduced their director’s salary, but not drastically.
Companies have until the end of 2015 to comply with Swiss voters’ wishes which include abolishing certain types of bonuses.
swissinfo.ch and agencies