Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Rotating Header Image Good life in boardroom as executive pay rockets 28 per cent

Linda Cook, Chief Executive, Royal Dutch Shell Gas & Power

Linda Cook, Chief Executive Shell Gas & Power

(Shell Insider Comment: Linda Cook, cited in the article below as receiving more than £1 million per annum, is the head of Shell Gas and Power, the division of Shell which signed the Sakhalin II agreement against the wishes of Exploration and Production)



Boardroom pay has exploded by almost 30 per cent, more than seven times the rate for ordinary workers.

A survey today showed top company directors’ pay packages soaring to record levels with the increase the biggest for many years.

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The 28 per cent surge takes the average pay for a chief executive at one of Britain’s biggest companies to £2.4 million, almost 100 times average earnings. The going rate for a finance director is £1.1 million.

The acceleration in bosses’ pay is opening up an ever widening gap between those running companies and the shop floor. Last year the average worker’s pay packet went up by 3.7 per cent, while inflation inched ahead by 2.5 per cent.

The Guardian newspaper’s annual survey of executive pay, conducted in association with pay consultancy Reward Technology Forum, revealed that the highest paid chief executive is Mick Davis of Xstrata, an Anglo-Swiss mining group with in copper, coal, gold and zinc. He earned nearly £15 million last year.

Mr Davis is one of a number of mining bosses at the top of the pay league. They have made bumper gains on share options and other incentive plans as a result of the boom in metals prices.

In total there are now eight chief executives who have basic salaries – before any bonuses or other rewards – of more than £1 million, or £20,000 a week. They include Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, BP’s Lord Browne and Charles Allen, the chief executive of under-performing ITV, who is stepping down.

Part-time chairmen, who generally work no more than two days a week, earn an average of £270,000 plus expenses. However, the highest paid non-executive chairmen earn substantially more. Sir John Sunderland at Cadbury-Schweppes took home £3.5 million last year.

The survey shows more than 200 directors receiving more than £1 million. It calculates directors’ total packages by adding basic pay, cash bonuses and gains from long-term incentives, together with the value of benefits in kind like cars, health insurance and help with school fees.

The best paid woman was Dame Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of the Pearson group, which publishes the Financial Times and owns Penguin books. She received £1.8 million including a bonus of more than £1 million. Two other women received more than £1 million – Linda Cook, head of gas and power at oil group Shell, and Pearson’s Rona Fairhead.

The survey also highlights the vast pensions lined up for some of the UK’s most senior businessmen. BP’s Lord Browne is set to receive £991,000 a year after he retires from the oil group in 2008.

The survey also reveals the best and worst paid employees. Top of the pile is venture capital specialist 3i which paid its staff an average of £174,625 each inn 2005 – up 60 per cent from a year earlier.

At the other end of the scale is Kazakh copper mining company Kazakhmys, now listed in London, where the average salary of its 64,000 miners is just over £2,000 a year.

The British company with the worst-paid staff is Next, whose staff – many of whom are part-time – earned an average £10,306. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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