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CEO bonuses rebound post-pandemic, new research shows

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By Adrian Suljanovic
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2 minute read

The dive in CEO bonuses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been short-lived.

According to new research conducted by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) payments are rebounding at record levels. 

The 21st annual CEO Pay in ASX 200 companies research by ACSI revealed that although Australian boards responded to the community impact and market turmoil of the pandemic with aptly reduced pay outcomes in 2020, the opposite has occurred in FY21.

In 2020, the median bonus received was only 30 per cent of the potential maximum. However, it rose to a record-breaking 76.7 per cent in 2021; the highest it has been in the seven years ACSI has collected this data. 

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Average bonuses awarded to ASX 100 chiefs have also hit a record $2.31 million, surpassing 2017’s record of $2.30 million.

Furthermore, the median cash pay for ASX 100 CEOs rebounded 41.6 per cent, from $1.98 million, which was the lowest recorded since 2003, to $2.80 million post-pandemic. 

Ed John, executive manager, stewardship at ACSI said the bonuses haven’t just rebounded but have “hit new heights.”

“That’s why investors, and ACSI, will be scrutinising closely the results-reporting season to see if this concerning trend of bonus ‘catch-up’ continues. This year’s outcomes will be judged against a backdrop of difficult financial markets and an uncertain economic outlook,” Mr John said. 

Mr John continued by stating that bonuses for CEO’s shouldn’t be awarded for “business-as-usual outcomes,” and that payments to senior executives “have to be aligned with value created for shareholders and reflect true outperformance.” 

Notably, Afterpay’s co-CEO’s Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar have set a joint record for realised pay of $264.2 million, accumulating over $100 million each, after exercising their $1 options when the share price was near $90.

CEO bonuses rebound post-pandemic, new research shows

The dive in CEO bonuses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been short-lived.

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