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BENGALURU : HCL Technologies Ltd’s chief executive C. Vijayakumar earned 123.13 crore ($16.52 million) last year, with three-fourths of his income in long-term benefits, making him the highest-paid boss among Indian software services firms.

Vijayakumar’s annual base salary totaled $2 million, $2 million in variable pay and $0.02 million in perquisites and other benefits for the year ended 31 March, Noida-based HCL Technologies disclosed its chief executive’s remuneration in its annual report released over the weekend.

A Long-Term Incentive (LTI) of $12.50 million, which includes income earned for the last two years, brought his total compensation to $16.52 million.

Vijayakumar’s salary of $4.13 million in the year ended March 2021 did not include the LTI, according to the country’s third largest technology services company.

“There has been no change in his remuneration during the FY 2021-22 except for receipt of USD 12.5 million as LTI (Long-Term incentive) that is paid at fixed intervals (at the end of two years) based on the achievement of milestones / parameters fixed by the Board," said the annual report. “Accordingly, the payment of above LTI is for two years that ended on March 31, 2021 viz. USD 6.25 million for FY 2019-20 & USD 6.25 million for the FY 2020-21".

How CEOs at the largest IT service firm fare
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How CEOs at the largest IT service firm fare

If the $6.25 million LTI earned for the year ended March 2020 is stripped from Vijayakumar’s compensation, his remuneration of $10.27 million would be a shade less than the $10.5 million earned by Wipro Ltd’s CEO Thierry Delaporte. Wipro, which reported the highest revenue growth among its peers last year and ended with $10.3 billion in revenue, paid the highest compensation to its boss.

Infosys Ltd, which ended with $16.3 billion in revenue, paid $10.2 million to CEO Salil Parekh. Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Ltd’s CEO Rajesh Gopinathan was paid the least—$3.3 million -- by the company that ended with $25.7 billion in revenue last year.

Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp paid its boss Brian Humphries $19.6 million.

One reason behind this difference in salaries is both Wipro and Infosys have external CEO candidates, and companies often pay more to get leaders from outside. Gopinathan, in contrast, is a TCS veteran before succeeding N. Chandrasekaran in 2017. Both Parekh and Delaporte are former executives of Capgemini SE, the French IT firm. Additionally, both Delaporte and Vijayakumar are based overseas: Delaporte is based out of Paris, while Vijayakumar is based out of New York.

Gopinathan and Parekh work out of Mumbai.

A spike in bosses' remuneration at IT services companies underscores the performance as many of the companies reported the fastest revenue growth last year in almost a decade.

The pay jump also reflects how companies are shedding their decades-old approach of being a conservative paymaster.

Vijayakumar has been CEO of the company since October 2016 but was not a part of the company’s 12-member board. Last year, HCL founder Shiv Nadar stepped down from the board, making way for Vijayakumar as managing director.

However, HCL’s annual report did not fully reveal the parameters of variable pay, a point which has made some of the large shareholders queasy.

BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager and which manages $10 trillion in assets, voted against the resolution seeking shareholder approval on Vijayakumar’s remuneration last year.

“Remuneration arrangements and remuneration committee are poorly structured," Blackrock said on 20 August last year, according to filings reviewed by Mint.

“After further review, RBC GAM determined the compensation plan requires improvements and support is not warranted at this time," reasoned Royal Bank of Canada as it also rejected the resolution. “Namely, we identified concerns regarding disclosure/transparency on remuneration figures and/or performance metrics, misalignment between practices and local norms/best practices, suitability of performance metrics, and disclosures/transparency on rationale"

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