Nissan shareholders question executive pay, extend Ghosn’s contract by a landslide

Ghosn 2015 shareholder meeting Yokohama - picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt jpg

Discussing what carmakers pay their CEO is a sacred tradition, and it is being observed without fail at every annual shareholder meeting of Nissan. Today was no exception. Nissan shareholders went home believing that management is grossly underpaid. Or maybe not.


It’s an annual ritual: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn shows what CEOs of multinational carmakers earn. He goes into a long discussion of how Nissan competes for talent in the global marketplace, and how its managers will fall victim to headhunters if not paid well. Her shows a study by compensation consultant Tower Watson (blue in the chart above) which has himself at $8.4 million, and at the bottom of the pay scale.

While Ghosn does that, a Nissan staffer ascends to the media that monitors the proceedings from the balcony of the Pacifica in Yokohama, and hands out a paper titled “Executive Compensation Facts and Figures.”

Each year, the shareholders are not convinced, if one can go by the questions asked. Each year, they ask why Ghosn also makes nearly $8 million at Renault (answer: that’s a question to be asked at the Renault stockholder meeting) and why Akio Toyoda makes only $1.8 million t (answer: that’s a question to be asked at the Toyota stockholder meeting).

However, if the stockholders would really be unhappy about what Ghosn and the Nissan C-suite are getting paid, shareholders could refuse to extend their contracts. Today, the terms of the Nissan board, including Carlos Ghosn, were extended for another two years with more than 94 percent of the votes.

What the stockholders really should have asked: Does Marchionne really deserve $85 million?

P.S.: A day later, it was revealed that with dividends, Akio Toyoda actually made $10.3 million.