Kogan: 14 Australian companies see shareholder strikes over CEO pay in 2021

With Australia’s highest paid CEOs making up to $ 15 million a year as workers languish, some people are not happy.

Shareholders in 14 different Australian companies have “gone on strike” after hearing about the huge pay CEOs are expected to receive as workers’ wages remain largely stagnant.

On Thursday, OpenDirector, in partnership with the Australian Financial Review, released its annual CEO compensation survey for fiscal year 2020-2021.

Data showed that CEO salaries jumped an average of 24%, despite some staff having seen their salaries cut or frozen during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Of Australia’s 50 highest-paid CEOs, only nine received less money than the year before.

Everyone got a big pay rise, some up to 1,400% more than they got in 2019.

This is a striking statistic that has not gone unnoticed among investors.

These companies were the worst culprits.

An investor “strike” occurs when a protest vote of 25% or more is cast at the company’s annual general meeting regarding compensation.

This has so far happened 14 times this year, according to the Australian Shareholders Association.

Ruslan Kogan, who runs the eponymous Kogan.com, an e-commerce company, saw his salary increase 1,413% from what he got last year, from $ 590,000 to 8.9 million of dollars.

Unsurprisingly, 42% of Kogan.com investors opposed the huge bonus.

Other CEOs who have seen massive salary increases include Shane Fallscheer of jewelry brand Lovisa, which rose from $ 1.2 million to $ 4.5 million, an increase of 273%.

The CEO of Channel 7 has seen a 241% increase from $ 1.3 million in fiscal year 2019-20 to $ 4.5 million in the last fiscal year.

In terms of pure pay, Macquarie Group boss Shemara Wikramanayake landed the top spot, with a reported total profit of $ 15.97 million between July of last year and June of this year.

Paul Perreault of CSL was second with $ 13.87 million.

In third, fourth and fifth places were Greg Goodman of Goodman Group, Sandeep Biswas of Newcrest Mining and Mike Henry of BHP, all of whom earned over $ 10 million.

Mr Kogan was sixth and Woolworths boss Brad Banducci seventh with $ 8.3 million to show for his year of hard work.

Coles CEO Steven Cain made significantly less at $ 6.7 million, number 12 on the list.

Where do the strikes take place?

In addition to Kogan.com, 13 other companies have suffered strikes by their shareholders over the compensation of their respective CEOs.

These included Dexus, Link Group, Rio Tinto, IAG, White Haven Coal, Scentre, Platinum Asset Management, Appen, Goodman, TechnologyOne, IDP Education, Transurban and Crown.

Ten of the 14 protest votes were 40 percent or more.

Dexus had the biggest backlash, with a 65% vote against CEO Darren Steinberg’s compensation of $ 5.2 million.

Transurban has just crossed the 25 percent threshold, recording 25.74 percent dissatisfaction with CEO Louis Charlton receiving $ 5.5 million from the company’s coffers.