The biggest companies in South Africa – and what their CEOs get paid

 ·23 May 2024

The ten largest companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) have a combined market capitalisation of a staggering R14.5 trillion, resulting in substantial CEO paydays—with the highest earner making a massive R250 million.

Being a CEO is a demanding role with its fair share of stresses and challenges. In South Africa, CEOs face unique circumstances that can amplify the pressures they experience. The CEO of a company that operates in South Africa must navigate a complex business environment.

Challenges in economic conditions, political instability, and high levels of inequality present significant obstacles for CEOs who want to guide their companies to success.

Balancing the pursuit of profitability with social responsibility can be a complex and stressful endeavour.

In South Africa, CEOs also face the ongoing challenge of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace due to the country’s history of apartheid, which has left a legacy of inequality.

As a result, CEOs are under pressure to address this legacy and cultivate inclusive practices within their organizations.

This necessitates the development of strategies to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion while also managing potential resistance and cultural sensitivities.

Additionally, CEOs in South Africa are confronted with a range of operational challenges, including fluctuating exchange rates, skills shortages, and unreliable infrastructure.

These factors can impede growth, raise costs, and place significant pressure on the CEO’s role.

CEOs are also under intense scrutiny from various stakeholders, such as shareholders, employees, government bodies, and the media.

They are expected to deliver results, uphold a positive public image, and comply with strict corporate governance standards.

CEO pay

Considering the challenges faced by companies operating in South Africa, BusinessTech examined the top 10 JSE-listed companies by market capitalisation to determine their CEOs’ salaries.

It’s important to note that some of these companies are multinational, so their remuneration figures were presented in dollars ($) or pounds (£).

To standardise the salaries in this article, the total remuneration amounts were converted to rand using the applicable exchange rate as of 22 May 2024.

Total remuneration includes:

  • Guaranteed pay;
  • Benefits;
  • Short-term incentives;
  • Long-term incentives.

The CEO of the largest JSE-listed company, BHP Billiton Group, is unsurprisingly the highest paid on our list. The group reports a substantial market cap of R2.83 trillion.

In 2023, Mike Henry, the CEO of the mining group, received a total compensation package of R249.8 million, which includes base salary, short-term incentives, cash bonuses, benefits, and long-term incentive plans.

BHP Billiton Group CEO, Mike Henry.

This is just over double the salary of Prosus N.V. and Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk was paid R113 million, and almost eight times more than the lowest-paid CEO on this list, FirstRand’s Alan Pullinger, who earned R31.55 million.

The second highest-paid CEO is Jerome Lambert of Richmont, who earned R158.7 million or R434,794 per day. The third is Michel Doukeris (CEO of AB InBev), who earned R126.2 million or R345,753 per day.

Ahead of Pullinger in the bottom three, the second lowest-paid CEO among the top companies was Anglo American’s Duncan Wanblad, who earned R83.1 million or R227,671 per day.

The third lowest paid was Standard Bank’s Sim Tshabalala, who earned R83.3 million or R228,230 per day.

The complete list of the top 10 JSE-listed companies, showing their respective market caps and CEO pay, is given in the table below.

CompanyMarket cap (billions)CEOAnnual salary (Rands)Average Per day
BHP BillitonR2 830Mike Henry$13.7 million
(R249.8 million)
R684 650
Prosus N.V.R2 790Bob van Dijk***R112.9 millionR309 215
AB InBev**R2 140Michel Doukeris$6.93 million
(R126.2 million)
R345 753
GlencoreR1 560Gary Nagle$5.8 million
(R105.7 million)
R289 589
Richemont*R1 520Jerome Lambert***CHf7.98m
(R158.7 million)
R434 794
British American TabaccoR1 390Tadeu Marroco$5.84 million
(R106.4 million)
R291 589
Anglo AmericanR824Duncan Wanblad£3.6 million (R83.1 million)R227 671
NaspersR702Bob van Dijk***R112.9 millionR309 215
FirstRand*R389Alan PullingerR31.55 millionR86 427
Standard BankR318Sim TshabalalaR83.3 millionR228 230
*Companies yet to release 2024 annual results. In these cases, we used figures from the previous year’s results.
**AB InBev’s compensation report didn’t give a total figure for Michel Doukeris’s remuneration. However, we summed up his pay based on what was outlined as his pay in the report, which included: Base salary ($1.39 million), Bonus ($4.54 million), Benefits ($0.8 million), and Pension contribution ($0.20 million).
***Bob van Dijk and Jérôme Lambert are no longer the CEOs of their respective companies for the 2024/25 financial year. Van Dijk has been replaced by Fabricio Bloisi, while Lambert has been replaced by Nicolas Bos.

Read: How much you need to earn to be in the richest 1% in South Africa

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