South Korea is upping its required levels of transparency from executives. The Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act — revised in November 2013 — now makes it compulsory for about 2,000 companies to provide compensation information. Some of the richest executives are the heads of automakers and technology companies as South Korea is one of the largest hubs for technological advancements.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that — as a result of the tightened rules around executive compensation information — Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong Koo has revealed his compensation for the first time. He received 14 billion won (equivalent to USD$13 million) in total from the three Hyundai entities. Bloomberg quotes Heo Pil Seok, CEO at Midas International Asset Management Ltd., which manages close to $9 billion including Hyundai shares:
“With the disclosure of the executives’ compensation, the pressure to deliver better profits will increase…Still, only directors are required to disclose their pay, therefore, the government and companies should take steps to expand the scope and provide more in-depth information on compensation.”
Despite the newly revised compensation disclosure regulations, some executives choose to renounce the director title, allowing them to keep their compensation private. Samsung’s Chairman Lee Kun Hee and his son Vice Chairman Lee Jae Yong are two such men. Samsung’s three co-CEOs did disclose their compensations together totaling $18.1 billion.
The issue of executive pay is heating up in the U.S. where the debate around company performance versus levels of executive pay is raging. InsideCounsel’s Erin Harrison writes that the rift between corporate directors and institutional investors over the executive pay model is still very much a wide one.
Harrison writes: “Given the strong level of shareholder support for say-on-pay votes the last three years, directors firmly believe they are doing a good job of addressing executive pay issues and that revisions to the executive pay model are working well overall, according to Andrew Goldstein, central division leader for executive compensation at Towers Watson. Investors, however, see things quite differently.”
The shareholder outrage that has erupted in the U.S. over Coca-Cola’s executive pay has taken the spotlight in this arena. A dispute between shareholders and the company is based around the company’s proposed equity plan for executives that one shareholder claims is vastly unfair to investors. The debate over executive compensation will likely always be an ongoing one on a global level.