Fat cat bosses at some of Britain’s biggest companies are raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of perks on top of their multi-million pay packages, a Mail on Sunday investigation has found.
FTSE 100 chiefs are enjoying what critics call ‘completely gratuitous’ payments to cover private aircraft use, school fees, family travel, chauffeur-driven cars and even tax advice.
In total, the UK’s 100 largest public companies paid their chief executives more than £6 million in taxable ‘benefits’ last year, with 15 bosses enjoying perks worth £100,000 or more.
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Arnold Donald, boss of cruise ship company Carnival, which owns P&O, enjoyed one of the most generous benefits packages.
The 64-year-old American is allowed to spend $200,000 (£163,000) of company money on aircraft for personal use.
Last year, as part of his total $13.7 million pay package – made up of salary and bonuses – he got benefits payments of $289,790, with $126,929 going towards personal use of aircraft.
A Carnival spokesman said his total package is determined by the board so that it is in line with the pay of other chief executives in the United States.
Mike Wells, chief executive of insurer Prudential, received benefits of £407,000 last year, taking his total package to £7.4 million.
This included £311,000 to cover the cost of mortgage interest on his London home. Wells has received numerous other mortgage payments since being made chief executive in 2015.
This perk arrangement came to an end in November last year.
Frank Van Zanten, boss of packaging firm Bunzl, took home perks of £402,100 last year, taking his total pay to £2.8 million.
Some £385,040 of this related to an ‘international relocation package’ from Amsterdam to London, including ‘assistance with accommodation, removal costs and school fees’.
Bunzl declined to explain why Van Zanten receives assistance paying school fees or why he is still paid a ‘relocation package’ three years after becoming chief executive.
Nicandro Durante, the Brazilian who led British American Tobacco until April this year, took home £8.8 million last year, including £295,000 of benefits.
This included a £16,000 car allowance, £62,000 worth of tax advice, the use of a company driver costing £83,000 and £121,000 relating to ‘home and personal security’.
A company spokesman said this related to ‘enhanced home and personal security arrangements in Brazil, which reflected the security profile of the country’.
David Schwimmer, the London Stock Exchange’s chief executive since August last year, was paid £2.2 million, including £174,000 of benefits, during his first five months in charge.
Because he moved from New York, he has an annual relocation package that includes accommodation expenses of £150,000 and £50,000 a year to cover flights for him and his family between the UK and US.
Paul Polman, 63, who stood down as chief executive of Unilever this year, took home more in benefits than any other FTSE 100 boss last year. As part of his total €11.7 million (£10.5 million) pay in 2018, Polman was handed €526,391 of perks, including €469,788 to ‘protect against difference between employee social security obligations in country of residence versus UK’. Unilever did not respond to requests for comment.
Three banking chief executives enjoyed benefits worth more than £100,000 last year, with each figure including a contribution to assistance with tax affairs.
Bill Winters, chief executive of Asia-focused Standard Chartered, took home £6 million, encompassing £210,000 worth of benefits including private medical cover and cash benefits. Last month, he suggested investors who voted against his pay were ‘immature’.
Ross McEwan, outgoing boss of taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, took perks of £117,000 as part of his £3.6 million package. The benefits payment included £15,493 of ‘relocation expenses’.
Lloyds boss Antonio Horta-Osorio was paid a total of £6.3 million last year, including £157,000 of benefits. AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot was last year paid a total of £11.4 million, including £121,000 of benefits. He was able to take £106,000 of this in cash.
Luke Hildyard, executive director of the High Pay Centre, said: ‘These payments are completely gratuitous. Ordinary people are paid a salary from which they cover living expenses such as moving house. There’s no reason why CEOs should be any different. It’s essentially an extra unconditional bonus and screams of poor governance from boards and shareholders.’
Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business Select Committee of MPs, said: ‘It is totally unacceptable that company bosses are topping up their already sky-high pay with contributions towards housing, schooling and transport.’