What South Africa’s top companies make in profit for every R1 they pay their CEOs

 ·1 Jun 2024

CEOs of JSE-listed mining, banking, and luxury goods giants are some of the country’s biggest earners, earning tens of millions of rands in salaries each year.

While their salaries may seem outrageous to the rest of the country—and even their shareholders—chief executives oversee some of the largest corporate institutions with the biggest profits in the country.

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

This requires developing strategies for diversity, equity, and inclusion, while also managing operational challenges such as fluctuating exchange rates, skills shortages, and unreliable infrastructure.

CEOs are under intense scrutiny from stakeholders and are expected to deliver results and comply with corporate governance standards.

Looking at the basic guaranteed salaries of these JSE-listed CEOs, the companies they lead make thousands of rands in profit for every rand paid to them in remuneration.

However, the full picture can only be seen once bonuses and incentives are added to the mix.

These big corporations have in the past argued that it is inaccurate to include incentives paid to executives in a salary vs. profit comparison for any given year because shares are given and exercised at different times and do not necessarily reflect, or are tied to, the year being assessed.

While incentives and bonuses are promised in different financial years, they are paid out in a given financial year and thus impact shareholders’ bottom lines in that year.

The executive with the best salary-to-profit ratio is former Prosus N.V. CEO Bob van Dijk, whose R111 million salary in the full year of 2023 provided R31,414 in profit for every rand he earned the group that year (total comprehensive income: $10 billion).

Former Naspers and Prosus N.V. CEO Bob Van Dijk.

When looking at South Africa’s top-paid banking CEO, Investec made R1,515 for every rand CEO Fani Titi made in the same year.

Comparing the five top-paid CEOs, while BHP Billiton was the highest paid (R255.2 million), Richemont’s Jerome Lambert seems to have received the most generous pay, with the luxury goods company only making R746 for every rand he earned in 2023.

The table below details the salary-to-profit ratio of five of the top-paid JSE-listed CEOs, calculated by dividing attributable profit by each CEO’s total earnings (including bonuses and incentives) for the latest full financial year.

Company profit
Salary-to-profit ratio
Prosus N.V.Bob van Dijk**$5.93 million
(R111 million)
$10 billion$1 686
(R31 414)
AB InBevMichel Doukeris$6.93 million
(R129.2 million)
$10.8 billion$1 558
(R29 019)
BHP BillitonMike Henry$13.7 million
(R255.3 million)
$14.3 billion$1 044
(R19 483)
Investec*Fani Titi£7.5 million
(R178 million)
£479 million£64
(R1 515)
Richemont*Jerome Lambert**CHf7.98 million
(R163.9 million)
€301 million€37
*Companies yet to release 2024 intergrated results. In these cases, we used figures from the previous year’s results.
**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.

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