Ghosn Pay Little Changed After Nissan’s Profit-Growth Stalls

Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn reported his smallest raise in compensation since Japanese companies began disclosing CEO pay three years ago as profits stalled.

Ghosn, 59, earned 988 million yen ($10 million) in salary and bonuses for the fiscal year ended March 31, up 0.1 percent from a year earlier, he said at the company’s annual general meeting today in Yokohama, Japan. By comparison, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda’s compensation rose 35 percent to 184 million yen, while Honda Motor Co. President Takanobu Ito got an 18 percent raise to 145 million yen.

Nissan, which sells more cars in China than Toyota or Honda Motor Co., reported the smallest profit growth among Japanese automakers last fiscal year after a wave of anti-Japan sentiment spread across China. Also hindering earnings, U.S. sales of Nissan’s flagship Altima midsize sedan missed company expectations.

“Ghosn’s compensation should reflect Nissan’s business performance last year,” Takashi Aoki, a fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co., which oversees about $33 billion, said before the disclosure. “There have been issues with new models in America that affected the company’s profit so management has to take responsibility.”

Since 2010, publicly traded companies in Japan have been required to disclose annual executive pay exceeding 100 million yen.

Average Compensation

While the compensation puts Ghosn on track to be among the highest-paid executives in Japan, the company said the amount is lower than the industry average. Comparable global carmakers paid an average of $15.3 million to their CEOs in 2012, Nissan said, citing estimates at consultant Towers Watson & Co.

Ghosn’s compensation wouldn’t even put him among the top 100 American chiefs, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally received $21 million in compensation last year, according to Ford’s proxy. Volkswagen AG, the largest European automaker, paid CEO Martin Winterkorn

14.5 million euros ($19 million) in 2012.

Nissan said its directors, including Ghosn, received a combined 1.84 billion yen, down 1.1 percent from a year earlier. The final payment to directors was 61.5 percent of the total compensation approved by shareholders.

Last fiscal year, Nissan’s net income climbed 0.3 percent to 342.4 billion yen. That’s about 64 percent less than what Toyota earned and 7 percent below Honda.

Nissan, along with other Japanese exporters, have a brighter outlook this year as the weakening yen bolsters the value of overseas sales. Nissan has forecast profit to rise 23 percent to a six-year high of 420 billion yen and analysts expect the company to beat those projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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