Yokohama: Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said Wednesday he earned 9.8 million dollars last year, the highest executive salary publicly revealed in Japan so far under new reporting requirements.
Ghosn disclosed his salary at a Nissan shareholders’ meeting, saying his compensation package for the fiscal year to March totalled ¥890 million ($9.8 million), including stock options.
The news came after the government in April required listed companies to report the names and salaries of executives who earn more than ¥100 million.
Ghosn’s package tops the roughly ¥816 million that Sony CEO Howard Stringer earned in the same year. Sony publicised that information last week at its shareholders’ meeting.
The Japanese public has watched with keen interest the pay cheques of Stringer and Ghosn, two high-profile foreigners at the helm of major companies in a country where executive compensation has traditionally been significantly lower than in the United States and Europe.
Ghosn, a French, Brazilian-born businessman, is CEO of both Nissan and its largest shareholder, Renault, which last year paid him €1.24 million ($1.52 million dollars).
“Nissan is a Japanese company with a global management,” Ghosn told a news conference when asked about the disparity between his Renault and Nissan salaries.
“The percentage of non-French in Renault is very small” by comparison. “If you want to attract global people you are not going to attract them by offering local conditions.”
A Nissan spokesman said that Ghosn’s remuneration was still less than “the average CEO’s remuneration of Volkswagen, Ford, Daimler and Fiat.”
Nicknamed “Le Cost Killer,” Ghosn came to Nissan in 1999, dispatched by Renault after the French firm took a controlling interest in the Japanese carmaker that was then on the brink of bankruptcy.
Nissan posted a ¥42.4 billion ($460 million) annual profit last year as cost-cutting efforts and sales growth in emerging markets, particularly China, helped turn around a huge 233.7 billion yen loss from the year before.
It aims to ramp up its China production to more than one million cars a year by 2012 as the nation’s booming economy drives demand.
Ghosn said Nissan was paying “a lot of attention” to strike action in China that has hit the production of rivals Honda and Toyota in recent weeks and led to significant pay rises for workers.
However, “I don’t think the events are making us change our plan,” he said. “Things (in China) are going smoothly for us.”
Ghosn added that Renault Samsung and Nissan’s recent interest in acquiring South Korea’s ailing automaker Ssangyong Motor was “purely” about boosting capacity there.