March 12, 2015 / 8:46 AM / 3 years ago

Shell CEO's total pay soars to 17 million pounds

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) Chief Executive Ben van Beurden will earn a total 24.2 million euros (17.3 million pounds) for 2014, making him one of the highest-earning FTSE 100 bosses despite last year’s sharp fall in oil prices.

Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, gestures during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow April 18, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov

Van Beurden’s total pay includes 5.6 million euros in salary, bonus and shares plus pension and other items, the company said on Thursday.

His 2014 compensation, when calculated in British pounds, places him as the second-highest-paid senior executive on the FTSE 100 share index after WPP (WPP.L) chief executive Martin Sorrell, whose 2013 pay package reached 29.8 million pounds, according to think tank High Pay Centre.

Shell chief financial officer Henry Simon’s total remuneration rose by 46 percent in 2014 from a year earlier to 6.485 million euros.

Van Beurden was appointed to the top position on Jan. 1, 2014 and his prior year’s salary was not disclosed.

The pay levels could revive investor protest after earnings per share in 2014 declined by around 8.5 percent to $2.38 per share.

“Van Beurden is doing quite well at a time when the oil price is going down,” said Deborah Hargreaves, High Pay Centre director.

“Is there an argument that if he is rewarded when the oil price goes up, he should sacrifice some of that reward when the oil price goes down? I think it is one-sided. There is a lot of upside and not much downside.”

Shell spokeswoman Sally Donaldson said van Beurden’s total figure, published in the company’s annual report, was “unusually high” because it included a variety of extra payments related to his long service with Shell and tax payments.

“This is not the same as this year’s ‘take home pay’,” Donaldson told Reuters in a statement.

“His promotion to CEO, combined with his prior expatriation from the Netherlands to the UK, have resulted in the ‘single figure’ which we have published today, but it’s important to put this figure in appropriate context.”

BP (BP.L) said this month Chief Executive Bob Dudley’s total compensation rose by more than 20 percent to $12.74 million in 2014.

Shell’s earnings on a current cost of supplies basis rose to $19 billion in 2014 from $17 billion a year earlier, despite the near halving in oil prices in the second half of the year.

European oil majors have long argued that they have to pay high salaries to retain talented people who otherwise might leave for higher-paying U.S. firms.

By comparison, Rex Tillerson, the long-serving chief executive of Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), earned $40 million in 2012, falling to $28 million in 2013. Chevron’s chief John Watson’s compensation also fell to $24 million in 2013 from $32.2 million in 2012.

Shell, Europe’s largest oil major, has traditionally been among the best paying companies. It paid over $20 million to its previous CEO Peter Voser in 2012 but halved his remuneration to $11.24 million in 2013 following what the company described as a disappointing performance.

Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson; editing by Jason Neely/Ruth Pitchford

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