Shell CEO bags €20m on bumper pay day

Shell chief van Beurden's pay has more than doubled. Picture Eric Piermont
Shell chief van Beurden's pay has more than doubled. Picture Eric Piermont
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The boss of Royal Dutch Shell received a 126 per cent pay rise last year, pocketing €20.1 million (£17m) after higher oil prices boosted profits at the energy giant.

Chief executive Ben van Beurden saw his pay packet climb from €8.9m to more than €15m as part of a long-term incentive plan and also scooped a €3m annual bonus.

It follows a strong year for the oil giant, which in January revealed its biggest profit haul for four years.

The blue chip firm posted underlying earnings of $21.4 billion (£16.1bn) for 2018, a rise of 36 per cent.

As well as higher oil prices throughout the bulk of the year, Shell also benefited from dramatic cost-cutting, while selling off assets.

Van Beurden has been leading an ambitious efficiency drive since the industry was buffeted by the 2014 oil price crash.

However, the bumper pay award is likely to reignite the debate about executive pay.

Last year, more than a quarter of Shell investors voted against the CEO’s pay at the energy giant’s annual meeting. The oil chief’s salary is 143 times that of the average Shell employee.

Shell said it is “sensitive to the wider societal discussions regarding the level of executive pay”, adding that it spent a significant amount of time discussing the bumper payout.

The group added: “We believe our ratio is consistent with those seen in other FTSE 30 companies, although it is challenging to draw a meaningful comparison given the different markets and industries in which they operate.”

This comes on that same day that advertising heavyweight WPP said it is to pay former chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell £2.1m as part of a long term incentive plan.

The advertising guru left the company last year in the wake of allegations of personal misconduct, and it had been thought that WPP would look to withhold payouts after his departure.

However, WPP has said that an executive performance share plan for 2014 to 2018 would vest to 33.3 per cent of the maximum.

This entitles Sorrell to around 250,000 shares, amounting to £2.1m, in addition to dividends on the stock.