The chief executive of Shell earned €24.2m (£19.5m) last year to become the second-highest paid boss in the FTSE 100.
Ben van Beurden’s remuneration package was swollen by pension payments and “tax equalisation” handouts for the Dutchman as he was promoted from inside the organisation to the top job in January 2014.
Van Beurden, who has marked his move to the top job with a series of asset sell-offs and financial writedowns, earned a basic salary of €1.4m plus a bonus of €3.3m and share awards of €863,000.
He drew more benefit from a €10m injection into his pension pot plus a €7.9m tax equalisation payment which brought the yearly total to just over €24m euro – a number that Shell said converted to just under £20m.
Van Beurden’s remuneration makes him the second-highest paid boss in the FTSE 100 index of leading companies on the London Stock Exchange. He is behind Sir Martin Sorrell, who heads up advertising group WPP but well ahead of Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP who earned just under £10m in 2014.
Shell’s finance director, Simon Henry secured a pay package worth £3.8m last year. The annual report notes that there were further advantages for both men: “Executive directors received car allowances or lease cars, transport to and from home and office, occasional business-required spouse travel, as well as employer contributions to life and medical insurance plans.”
Deborah Hargreaves, chief executive of the High Pay Commission which monitors business salaries, noted that tax equalisation payments had triggered protests from shareholders in the past, notably with regard to salaries at Barclays bank.
“I think Ben van Beurden’s pay could become a potential political issue in the run-up to the elections. There is a lot of discussion at the moment about top pay and its a difficult time to be handing out such rewards.”
Shell will argue that van Beurden helped the company to performed better than many of its peers during 2014 with income up from $17bn (£11bn) to $19bn despite a slump in global crude prices. Companies such as BP saw profits fall but the latest Shell profit figures are still well down on the $27bn earned in 2012.
A Shell spokeswoman said van Beurden’s unusually high salary was justified. “Shell’s executive compensation reflects delivery of our strategy, measured by both short-term and long-term targets. There is a clear alignment between the company’s performance and our compensation policies.”
This article was written by Terry Macalister, for theguardian.com on Thursday 12th March 2015 12.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010