How much is the CEO worth?

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How much is the CEO worth, or rather, how much is the CEO being paid, particularly compared to the rank and file under the CEO’s vision?

One of the poorest is Toyota’s boss, Akio Toyoda who received a total of $1.86 million in salary and bonuses.  This remuneration also includes dividends from shares he owns in the company, which was founded by his great-grandfather.

Carlos Ghosn, head of rival Nissan, Japan’s number-two automaker, retained his ranking as possibly Japan’s best-paid CEO, raking in almost 10 million dollars.  Ghosn’s raison d’etre being that “Companies must employ and retain top leaders,” which he told investors last year in response to questions on his pay package.

However, if you think Carlos is doing well, in the United States Ford chief executive Alan Mulally was paid $21 million in 2012, while General Motors’ chief Dan Akerson received $11.1 million.

The salary gap between a firm’s lowest and highest-paid workers in Japan tends to be a fraction of levels seen in North America and Europe, where top pay has attracted a growing chorus of criticism.

However, Europe has been restraining such pay rises.  In April, shareholders in Swiss private bank Julius Baer flatly rejected the bank’s plan for executive compensation in a non-binding vote, amid outrage over huge pay packages.

That came just a month after Swiss voters massively came out in favor of a new law limiting executive pay and bonuses, among various measures taken across Europe to shrink CEO pay.

Earlier this year, a government auditor blasted the US Treasury for approving high levels of top-level pay at firms bailed out in the financial crisis.

Is the writing on the wall?

In Japan, CEO compensation of around $1.0 million or less is not uncommon while some executives take pay or bonus cuts if the firm has not performed.  Last month, Sony said dozens of senior executives including CEO Kazuo Hirai would give up their bonuses this year to atone for a slump in its embattled electronics unit.