Pandemic pay: Who got a bump in their salary last year?

Covid-19 may have hit some pay packets hard, but the leaders of the Top 1000 may have fared better

With hundreds of thousands out of work on pandemic related subsidies, many people will have seen their pay decline substantially over the past year.

Not so at the top however, as this survey of 10 of the largest listed companies, by revenue, in Ireland shows, with remuneration for the bosses collectively rising by 22 per cent, or € 8 million, in 2020 - despite some of the chief executives taking temporary pay cuts.

In total, the salaries of the 10 bosses in 2020 rose from €36.7 million to €44.7 million. Indeed the research for Top1000 details how the chief executives of 10 of the largest listed companies that reported results for the full year of 2020 commanded higher remuneration as the covid-19 crisis ravaged the global economy.


The biggest gainer in the year was Flutter Entertainment chief executive Peter Jackson, who received a 258 per cent pay increase, bringing his total remuneration up to £7.5 million (€ 8.65 million). Jackson's fixed pay was £976,000, with an annual bonus of £2.35 million and £3.7 million of share options given under a long-term incentive plan making up much of the rest. Jackson's remuneration rise followed the completion of a deal in which Flutter Entertainment merged its business with online gambling company Stars Group.As a result,the market capitalisation of Flutter increased by 170 per cent, from £6.4 billion to over £17 billion, according to the company's annual report. The merger means Flutter now ranks amongst the largest 25 companies in the FTSE index.


Despite the substantial gain for Jackson, it is CRH chief executive Albert Manifold who continues to command the highest remuneration for his work at the building materials giant. Manifold's remuneration rose 20 per cent to € 11.2 million in 2020 compared to 2019. The CRH boss waived 25 per cent of his salary for three months during the pandemic. In addition to his salary and fixed payments of €1.46 million, he received a €2 million cash bonus and about €6 million in performance incentives.

The biggest loser on this year's list was the boss of Kerry Group, Edmond Scanlon. Scanlon's remuneration package fell by 42 per cent to €2.3 million. Most of the fall was attributable to the lack of a payout under Kerry Group's short term incentive scheme, which had paid him €1.3 million the prior year.

Grafton Group chief executive Gavin Slark followed closely behind, and saw his total remuneration package fall by just shy of 40 per cent to £1.12 million (€1.28 million). During the pandemic Slark volunteered to takeatemporary 20 per cent cut on his base salary and pension contributions, and also requested a suspension of the bonus scheme for 2020.


There are two women on this year's list: Glanbia chief executive Siobhán Talbot and Francesca McDonagh, chief executive of Bank of Ireland. Talbot's remuneration rose by 46.5 per cent during the year to €2.3 million, with much of this rise attributable to the fact that Talbot's variable pay rose from € 183,000 in 2019 to €911,000 in 2020. In 2019 Talbot voluntarily waived any bonus entitlements as the group's net profit slid 23 per cent due to challenges in its key Glanbia Performance Nutrition division.

At Bank of Ireland, McDonagh saw her pay packet inch up by just €3,000, with total remuneration of € 961,000. While the bank has more flexibility in setting remuneration levels than either AIB or Permanent TSB, it must still secure approval from the Department of Finance for roles that pay above € 500,000. Other gainers on this year's list include Smurfit Kappa chief executive Tony Smurfit, whose remuneration package rose by 43 per cent to €5.26 million, and Dr Steve Cutler, chief executive of Icon, whose remuneration rose 13 per cent to $8.66 million (€7.18 million).

The survey is based on accounts filed for 2020 for the 10 largestlisted companies, by turnover, on Euronext Dublin. While DCC, Ryanair and C&C are within this cohort, annual reports for their most recent financial year were not published atthe time of writing. In addition, Ornua was not included as it does not disclose remuneration for its chief executive

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business