Only four women made the top 50 highest paid CEOs in Australia list and just five CEOs cracked the A$10 million mark. Fortescue Metals CEO Elizabeth Gaines secured the title of best-performing CEO, based on shareholder returns over the past financial year.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on November 18, 2019

Macquarie Bank CEO Shemara Wikramanayake is the highest paid CEO in Australia, the first time a woman has held that position.

Wikramanayake received more than A$18 million in the last financial year, reported the Australian Financial Review‘s annual CEO pay survey, prepared by data company OpenDirector.

Wikramanayake, the only female CEO among Australia’s 20 biggest companies by market value, delivered an 11% rise in half-year profit to A$1.46 billion. She replaced Nicholas Moore as Macquarie Bank CEO on 1 December 2018. Wikramanayake had been group head of Macquarie Asset Management.

Fortescue Metals CEO Elizabeth Gaines (below) secured the title of best-performing CEO, based on shareholder returns over the past financial year. Gaines, who ranked 33 for CEO pay on more than A$5 million, took over at the Andrew Forrest-founded and chaired iron ore miner from departing CEO Nev Power in February 2018.

Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines

Only four women made the top 50 highest paid CEO list in total and just five CEOs cracked the A$10 million mark, with Greg Goodman, founder of property group Goodman, ranked second on A$12.8 million, Paul Perreault, CSL CEO third on $A11.72 million, Michael Clarke, Treasury Wine Estate CEO fourth on $A11.39 million and Andrew Mackenzie, BHP CEO fifth on $A10.54 million.

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The other two women in the top 50 highest paid CEOs in Australia were Susan Lloyd-hurwitz, CEO of Mirvac Group (AS4.82 million), and Alison Watkins, CEO of Coca-Cola Amatil (AS4.11 million).

Wikramanayake’s salary is chicken feed to the UK’s highest paid CEO – Bet365 CEO Denise Coates was paid £265 million (US$342 million) last year. In the US Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, received the highest salary package of US$2.28 billion.

The highest paid CEO survey found the CEO salaries of the big four banks had dropped considerably whereas mining, property and healthcare CEOs now dominate the top 50 list.

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