Fiat and its Ferrari subsidiary awarded the highest compensation in the European industry to some of their key executives last year, according to a survey by Automotive News Europe.

Fiat group, which in 2002 suffered its highest net loss ever, €4.26 billion, paid its CEO, Paolo Cantarella, €1.3 million for less than six months on the job. Cantarella was fired on June 10, 2002. The year before, Cantarella had earned slightly more than €3 million, which made him Europe's highest-paid CEO by a long margin. Cantarella, after 25 years with the company, was also granted a €20 million severance package in 2002.

The biggest 2002 bonuses in the industry went to Ferrari chairman and CEO Luca di Montezemolo and his racing division chief, Jean Todt.

For the full year 2002, PSA/ Peugeot-Citroen chairman and CEO Jean-Martin Folz came in second place with total compensation of €1.9 million, up almost 10% from the previous year. His counterpart at Renault, Louis Schweitzer, was the executive whose compensation last year showed the sharpest rise, up 51% from a year earlier to €1.65 million.

Automotive News Europe's list includes companies in France and Italy, the only two countries obliged by market regulators to disclose compensation details. In Germany, companies only have to report total board compensation, which doesn't give a complete picture of individual executives' salaries.

Europe's top automotive executives earn much less than their US counterparts. GM chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner last year made $US12.2 million (€10.8 million), while Ford's highest-paid executive, vice chairman Carl Reichardt, earned $7.3 million.

Fiat chief operating officer Alessandro Barberis received €809,600 for six months on the job. Barberis made just a fraction less than the full-year compensation received by Frederic Saint-Geours and Claude Satinet, the heads of Peugeot and Citroen, respectively.

Thierry Morin, the CEO of France's Valeo, was the highest-paid executive in the supplier sector, earning €1.36 million. Valeo group sales dropped 4% during the year to €9.8 billion, but net earnings swung to a profit of €135 million from a year-earlier loss.

In the supplier category the second- and third-highest-paid CEOs were also French: Laurent Burelle, chairman and CEO of Plastic Omnium, and Pierre Levi, who held the same position at Faurecia.

The top ranks of European automotive industry salaries are mostly taken up by car maker CEOs, in contrast to the USA, where suppliers make up the top five and hold 30 out of 32 of the top spots in 2002. In Europe, Valeo's Morin took fourth place, but the other 14 top supplier executives rank mostly in the bottom half of the list.

Only eight out of 23 European top executives had a performance-related bonus in 2002 and just four of these exceeded salaries. By comparison, bonuses for 19 of the 32 best-paid US automotive executives exceeded base pay. Only five didn't receive a bonus at all.

The biggest bonuses in the European automotive industry were given to Ferrari chairman di Montezemolo and racing division chief Todt. They were granted €18.2 million and €3 million, respectively, "in recognition of their contributions to the increased prestige and value of the company."

Ferrari wasn't included in the Automotive News Europe list because, as a privately held company, it didn't divulge any other executive compensation details.

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