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Top corporate salaries to be made public

Salaries of listed companies are set to become more transparent

(Keystone)

The Swiss parliament has agreed that salary levels of company board members and senior management should be disclosed.

The Senate on Wednesday followed the House of Representatives in accepting the move, paving the way for more corporate transparency.

Under the amended law, which is due to go to a final reading on Friday, about 300 companies listed on the Swiss stock exchange will have to disclose the salaries of individual board members and advisory councils.

However, only the wages of the chief executive and the total sum for the whole senior management have to be revealed.

The Senate withdrew a proposal from the draft law which would have obliged major companies in Switzerland to give more salary details.

The law is part of efforts by the Swiss authorities to introduce improved corporate governance rules.

Similar moves have been made in the United States and Britain.

Survey

In a related development, the Swiss HandelsZeitung economics weekly reports that the average payment to a board member of a company in Switzerland has gone up by seven per cent from last year to SFr73,000 ($56,288).

The newspaper, which took a survey of 317 companies listed on the stock exchange and big firms, found that the best-paid board members were at Switzerland's second-largest bank Credit Suisse.

CS hands out SFr680,000, while pharmaceuticals giant Novartis gives SFr510,400 and food giant Nestlé pays SFr430,300. All three pay in both cash and shares.

Marcel Ospel at Switzerland's largest bank UBS tops the list of payments to board chairmen, receiving SFr21.3 million in cash and shares.

He is followed by Daniel Vasella of Novartis, who receives SFr20.8 million in his positions as chairman and CEO, and Walter Kielholz of Credit Suisse who picks up SFr12 million.

The survey finds that three out of four companies pay their board members in cash and that it is only seldom that salaries are linked to business success.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Best-paid chairmen:

UBS/Marcel Ospel – SFr21,273,000.
Novartis/Daniel Vasella – SFr20,786,300 (also CEO).
Credit Suisse/Walter Kielholz – SFr12 million.
Vontobel/Peter Wagner (2004) – SFr4,800,500.
Schindler/Alfred Schindler – SFr4,599,400 (also CEO).

end of infobox


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