Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn told shareholders that he earned JPY890m (US$9.8m) last year, the highest executive salary publicly revealed in Japan so far under new reporting requirements.
Ghosn told the meeting his package for the fiscal year to 31 March included stock options.
From April, the Japanese government has required listed companies to report the names and salaries of executives who earn more than JPY100m (US$1.1m).
Ghosn’s package tops the roughly JPY816m (US$9m) earned by Sony CEO Howard Stringer.
Agence France Presse noted 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 pay and benefits have traditionally been significantly lower than in the US and Europe.
Ghosn also said five other company executives, including chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga, had each received more than JPY100m.
Shiga received JPY134m (US$1.5m), while executive vice president Colin Dodge received JPY176m (US$2m), and Carlos Tavares, another executive vice president, received JPY198m (US$2.2m). The two other executive vice presidents who received over JPY100m were Hiroto Saikawa and Mitsuhiko Yamashita.
Ghosn stressed that Nissan’s overall executive pay of JPY1.69bn (US$20m) in fiscal 2009 was lower than the cap of JPY2.99bn (US$30m) approved by shareholders and 34% lower than the previous fiscal year.
Ghosn also received EUR1.24m (US$1.5m) from Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault , for whom he is also CEO.
Asked about the disparity between his Renault and Nissan wages, Ghosn told a news conference: “Nissan is a Japanese company with a global management. If you want to attract global people you are not going to attract them by offering local conditions.”
Nissan posted a JPY42.4bn (US$460m) annual profit last year as cost-cutting efforts and sales growth in emerging markets, particularly China, helped turn around a huge JPY233.7bn loss in the previous year.
Ghosn said the company aims to boost China production to over 1m cars a year by 2012 as the nation’s booming economy drives demand. He added Nissan was paying “a lot of attention” to strike action in China that has hit the production by rivals Honda and Toyota in recent weeks and led to significant pay rises for workers.
“I don’t think the events are making us change our plan. Things (in China) are going smoothly for us,” he said.
Ghosn also said that Renault Samsung and Nissan’s recent interest in acquiring South Korea’s ailing carmaker SsangYong Motor is one way to boost capacity there.