CEOs come and go

Fat cat on couchThere is a lot of debate in Australian business media at present about whether ANZ CEO, John McFarlane, should retire or not. It appears that long standing board chair, Charles B Goode, wants McFarlane gone, while shareholders want him to remain.

This story in The Age suggests that

“ANZ chairman Charles Goode is rumoured to want Mr McFarlane gone before his own retirement, and recent comments from Mr McFarlane suggest his time is coming. The rumour mill also raises the prospect that ANZ could solve both its succession problem and an underweight exposure to NSW by acquiring St George (along with highly regarded boss Gail Kelly).”

As is often the case the New Zealand boss, Graham Hodges, is also being mentioned as one of the potential successors.

If he does leave McFarlane will do so after having received another $AU7.3 million as long with the $AU19 million of share options he has recently cashed in. This Melbourne Age story discusses how CEOs “enjoy multimillion-dollar options payouts that are not meaningfully disclosed to investors because of current accounting rules.”

For instance Westpac’s annual financial report released last week shows its CEO, David Morgan, received total remuneration of $8.4 million. It does not mention an options benefit of $6.3 million (although the concise report does mention this) or $3.8 million in cash Dr Morgan received or the exercise of 250,000 ‘stock appreciation rights’ in May.

“Research from proxy voting group Institutional Shareholder Services has found the annual report estimates of options payments regularly understates the actual gain received by chief executives by an average of 23 per cent. The group is pushing for better disclosure.”

Meanwhile in other bank CEO comings and goings, there is debate among commentators about whether Westpac New Zealand’s Anne Sherry is still a leading contender for Westpac Australia’s top job, after it was announced that she will be returning to Australia but with no comment being made on what role she will take up.

(Thanks to bokeh for the photo)

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