Monday, November 29, 1999

Sony CEO`s $4.5 mln pay stirs shareholders

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Sony Corp said its CEO Howard Stringer took home $4.5 million plus stock options in the past financial year -- when the electronics giant lost close to $450 million -- making him one of the highest paid executives at a Japanese company.Under new regulations, Japanese companies must reveal what they pay executives earning over 100 million yen ($1.1 million) a year.Non-Japanese executives such as Stringer and Nissan Motor Co's Carlos Ghosn are thought to make much more than their Japanese counterparts.Welsh-born Stringer was voted back in as chairman and chief executive at the annual shareholders' meeting in Tokyo on Friday, despite having struggled to significantly improve Sony's competitiveness since he took the top job in 2005.Sony posted a net loss of 40.8 billion yen in the last business year and continues to play catch-up with rivals such as Samsung Electronics in TVs and Apple Inc in portable music.Shareholders said they welcomed the new openness on executive pay, but some were unhappy with the amount Stringer received."When you're making a loss, you need to tighten your own belt a bit," said 72-year-old Katsuhiko Koyanagi, a shareholder and former Sony employee. "That's the Japanese way, but maybe he doesn't understand it."Stringer received 410 million yen in fixed and performance-related pay in the year to March. He was also given 500,000 stock options.Sony shares were down 0.9 percent at 2,542 yen each on Friday, and have dropped almost 30 percent since early April, knocking around $12 billion off the company's market value.The new rules on declaring pay will affect a tiny percentage of executives.Just 1.4 percent of directors and 8.3 percent of CEOs at listed companies in Japan took home more than 100 million yen in the year to March, according to a PriceWaterhouse Coopers survey.Vice Chairman Ryoji Chubachi received 150 million yen in annual pay, plus 80,000 stock options, Sony said.The payments were decided on the basis of global comparisons, taking into account the company's 7 trillion yen in revenues, the number of employees and the degree of complexity of the business, external director Sakie Fukushima told shareholders.(Editing by Chris Gallagher and Ian Geoghegan)
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