Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced his earnings for the 2010 fiscal year as $11.46 million, making him the highest-compensated executive officer of any Japanese automaker. Both salary and share offerings in Nissan are accounted for in that figure, but his compensation as CEO of French automaker Renault, approximately $1.7 million, is not.
Ghosn, a 57-year-old Brazilian native, is also the highest-paid CEO of any Japanese company that discloses executive salaries. Japanese companies are required by commerce regulations to publicly state their leading officer's salary if it exceeds 100 million yen annually. The second-place CEO behind Ghosn is Sony's Howard Stringer, who made 863 million yen, or $10.66 million by today's exchange rates, in the 2010 fiscal year.
Ghosn is actually making less than the average automotive CEO, however, as Towers Watson & Co. has determined the average compensation of all automotive CEOs worldwide is about $15.3 million annually. Ford CEO Alan Mulally earned $26.5 million in 2010, making him the highest-paid automotive CEO in the world. For comparison, Toyota president Akio Toyoda took home a total of $1.8 million for 2010, while Honda president Takanobu Ito was paid $1.6 million.
Ghosn said in an interview that Simon Thomas, who was senior vice president of marketing and sales for Nissan in Europe, left this month for a job at Volkswagen. "Nissan is obviously targeted not just by Japanese companies, but foreign companies going after talent," he said. Takeshi Miyao, analyst at the Carnorama consulting company in Tokyo said "Western companies see the need to provide higher incentives to top management than Japanese companies do. They understand that well-performing management leads to good earnings results and they maintain adequate pay to make sure top managers don't leave for another company."
Nissan is Japan's second-largest automaker, and raised its global market share 0.3 percent through the 2010 fiscal year to a record of 5.8 percent. Sales in China provided the biggest boost as Nissan posted a 36% growth there, followed by 17% growth in America.