GentingBhdGenting Bhd topped the list in the “highest-paid directors” survey, with a big payout of RM81.98 million to its board last year.

According to “Malaysian Business”, the annual survey revealed that the top-50 firms in terms of total payouts generously forked out RM553 million in 2008.

The payout for the top-10 companies alone was nearly RM300 million, the business magazine said.

“This show that despite the slowing economy, listed companies paid their directors a higher remuneration in 2008 compared to 2007,” it said in a statement Monday.

Boardroom remuneration has become a hot topic in the current economic environment, with directors seen as reaping huge rewards as investors faced dwindling share values, “Malaysian Business” said.

The survey report, which appeared in the Aug 16 issue, listed 630 firms that paid their top-earning directors RM300,000 and above for financial year 2008, amounting to a total of RM1.7 billion to their boards collectively.

Genting had the highest remuneration band of RM77.65 million to RM77.7 million for a single director, according to the survey, but the firm did not name who it was.

The top executive listed for Genting is its chairman and chief executive officer Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay.

IOI Corporation Bhd came in second as the company doubled the payout to its board members last year to RM45.16 million, of which the bulk went to a key director who received a sum in the RM41.1 million to RM41.15 million band.

“We assume that this recipient would be IOI Corp director and founder Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng,” said “Malaysian Business”.

Other firms with the highest remuneration bands for a single director were Genting’s subsidiary, Genting Malaysia Bhd (formerly Resorts World), which paid out RM37.25 million and above to its top executive.

But these payouts might have been paid to the same person, giving rise to the possibility of double counting, the magazine said.

SP Setia, a firm that has consistently kept to high governance standards, came in fourth as it upped the remuneration of group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin by 32 percent to RM10.26 million on the back of increased profitability, according to “Malaysian Business”.

Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow, chairman and founder of Public Bank, was back on the list as the highest-paid director at the bank, with a remuneration package totalling RM6.96 million.

The bank’s managing director and chief executive officer, Tan Sri Tay Ah Lek, who was the highest paid in 2007, received RM5.15 million in 2008, the magazine said.

“Malaysian Business” noted that SP Setia and Public Bank were among the handful of companies which disclosed the exact remuneration received by each director.

“Sadly, only about five percent or 44 companies were transparent in stating the exact remuneration of their top executive. Interestingly, several companies with huge losses still rewarded their directors with huge payouts,” it said.

Ancom Bhd propelled to the top 10 list when its top executive received a huge increase in remuneration in 2008 compared to the previous year, the magazine said.

It said that other notable shifts came from firms like DRB-Hicom Bhd and Huline Bhd, whose biggest increases in remuneration to their single top executive got them a place in the top 50 list.

Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd cut its total director payout by close to half last year to RM10.54 million from RM17.37 million.

In tandem, remuneration to its key director, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak was down to RM5.13 million from RM9.35 million the bank paid him in 2007.

This pushed the company to the 12th spot in the survey from the sixth spot previously, the magazine added. — BERNAMA