Executive pay rates in Australia are really getting out of hand given the overall performance level and it is about time some shareholders put a stop to it with dud CEOs like Dennis Eck walking away with an incredible $8.65 million last year. And read on to see our rating of the 10 best non-executive directors in Australia.

Well, just so we are comparing apples with apples, this is a list of the largest payments to CEOs in their final year with a company, whether the departure being a retirement or a sacking.

Send any corrections or additions to [email protected] and anyone who comes up with five corrections or additions for any single list will be entitled to a free subscription.

Sheryl Pressler: the ousted head of Lend Lease’s US real estate business managed to get her contract paid out in full so she walked away with $15 million which was 10 per cent of the company’s overall profit last year.

George Trumbull: After 3 years causing a lot of damage at AMP, George Trumbull was finally sacked in 1999 and walked away with a tidy $12.12 million in his final year. He got $4.94 million the year before and has retired a very wealthy man.

John Prescott: After almost 40 years with BHP, John Prescott walked away after an 8 years stint as CEO with $11.17 million in his final year back in 1998.

Len Bleasel: After starting out as a humble plumber, the retired AGL CEO collected a very handy $11 million last year and that’s before considering superannuation.

Don Argus: Walked away from the NAB with $9.259 million in cash in 1999 including $7.47 million in “retirement allowances”. The Don was also allowed to keep all his options which have made him more than $20 million in profits.

Dennis Eck: The Coles Myer CEO walked away with $8.65 million in his final year at the retailing giant and remains on a consultancy deal for several years.

Tom Park: the former Southcorp CEO only spent 5 months of his 5 year contract with the company but after buying Rosemout for $1.5 billion and bringing the management team in he was redundant but still collected $7.8 million before taking the reigns at Goodman Fielder.

Lloyd Williams: after PBL bought Crown casino, Lloyd bowed out of PBL with a $375,000 base salary and a $6.92 million “termination payment” bringing the total figure to $7.295m.

Ian Clack: when punted from Burns Philp about 5 years back, the former CEO received a total payout of $7 million.

Nick Falloon: It is not so bad getting sacked by the Packers when you walk out with $5.27 million which is exactly what happened to the former PBL CEO. A nice round $3m of this was for “termination”.

Peter Bartels: After collecting an $8 million payout staggered over 5 years from Foster’s, the barrel-chested former cyclist collected $3.7 million in his final year from Coles Myer.

Rod Chadwick: After 37 years with Pacific Dunlop, the ousted CEO collected a total payout of $3.49 million last year.

The 10 best non-executive directors

And while on directors, we’d like some feedback on this list which was cobbled together quickly earlier this week. It is in no particular order:

John Cloney: Ran QBE very well as MD then became QBE chairman and has been a director on Brambles and Cable & Wireless Optus.

Gary Pemberton: Ran Brambles very well and then chaired Qantas and the NSW TAB successfully before getting seriously rich buying into Billabong.

Leon Davis: Did a good job running Rio Tinto and now chairs Westpac whilst staying on as a NED with Rio.

Dick Warburton: Despite all the problems with DJs, Dick is an excellent director from what Crikey can tell although he’s got far too many directorships.

James Strong: It is still early days but Strong did well with Qantas and should be fine as chairman at NRMA and Woolworths.

David Clarke: The Macquarie Bank executive chairman is a not strictly a non-executive but the bank’s performance has been outstanding. And while Goodman Fielder battled during his latter years as chairman, Brian McGuigan Wines has prospered.

Frank Conroy: The former Westpac CEO actually runs due diligence before taking a board seat and has been good for St George and will hopefully do well with Santos while Howard Smith did well with Frank on the board.

Graeme Kraehe: It is still relatively early days but Graeme did well with Southcorp as CEO and now has some real blue-chip boards in Brambles, News Corp and the soon to be floated BHP Steel.

John Ralph: Despite the absolute disaster that has been Pacific Dunlop, John did a good job as CEO of the old CRA and his other directorships, Foster’s CBA and Telstra, have all done pretty well so he just sneaks on.

Frank Swan: ran Cadbury Schweppes in Australia and also sat on the parent company’s board. Now has a good portfolio as chairman of Foster’s and a director of National Foods and the Commonwealth Bank.

Others mentioned in emails include Don Argus, Jim Kennedy, Catherine Walter and Ken Moss but we’re still weighing these up and would like some feedback to [email protected]

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Peter Fray

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