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back to index backEUROtalk August,  2005

Executive compensation: earnings rise 15% - is Europe catching up?

Executive pay in Europe rose 15% in 2004, although European CEOs continue to earn less than their U.S. counterparts, reports Paola Hjelt in Fortune magazine.

L'Oreal CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones topped Fortune's annual compensation survey with a total of USD 28.3 million. This figure nevertheless remains far below the USD 120.1 million earned by Yahoo's Terry Semel in the U.S. Every country in Europe favors different compensation methods, notes the author. Stock-option packages are popular in France because they are taxed at a lower rate than in other EU nations, she adds.

As of January 1st, however, EU regulations require stock options to be expensed, creating a disincentive to use them as payment. Yet European executive salaries are not expected to drop as a result. Instead executives are likely to be awarded more restrictive and performance-based shares, say experts.

A Hay survey of top European executives conducted in 2004 found that although their earnings were 50 percent lower than those of U.S. executives, their salaries were higher. According to the survey, this balance is expected to shift, with European executives receiving greater compensation in bonuses and share incentives in the future.

Source: Egon Zehnder

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