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(Another) BHP CEO hits the jackpot.

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Senator Stephen Conroy Deputy Opposition Leader in the Senate Shadow Minister for Financial Services


The $50million dollar payout to the former CEO of BHP Billiton, Mr Brian Gilbertson, is the biggest payout in Australian corporate history.

It is an obscene abuse of shareholder funds.

Mr Gilbertson was the CEO at BHP Billiton for just six months before resigning earlier this year due to “irreconcilable differences” with the board.

This is another slap in the face for BHP shareholders:

• In 1998, John Prescott walked away with a package worth more than $11million. • In 2002, Paul Anderson walked away with a package worth more than $18 million. • In 2003, Brian Gilbertson walks away with a total a package worth more than $50 million ($10.2 million in cash and a pension for life which is valued by actuarial experts at $39


Payouts of this magnitude show that the BHP board is ignoring the groundswell of shareholder concern about obscene payments to corporate executives. Shareholder concern is further justified with the release today of a report commissioned by the Labor Council of NSW which shows that there is no link between high executive pay and company performance.

Shareholders in BHP should be outraged that after just six months in the job, a sacked CEO can walk away with over $10 million dollars (aside from his superannuation).

BHP shareholders have paid the price for weak corporate laws on executive remuneration.

In March this year the Howard Government voted down Labor’s amendments that give shareholders a statutory right to vote on company remuneration policy at the AGM.

Earlier this week in the UK, shareholders in pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, rebelled against a multi-million pound contract for their CEO, with 51% of shareholders voting against the remuneration report.

Labor believes that Australian shareholders deserve the same rights as their UK counterparts - so they can vote against company policy on remuneration policies like BHP Billiton’s.

Accordingly, Labor will again move its amendments (to give shareholders a say on executive remuneration) when the CLERP 9 legislation is introduced.

Further information: Stephen Conroy 0418 383 965 Amber Hawkins 0407 434 523