Gold fields has best-paid Africa bullion CEO even as shares drop

Nick Holland was the top-paid chief executive officer of South Africa’s four biggest gold producers even as Gold Fields Ltd. fell in 2015 and had a lower market value than rival AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.

Holland, 57, who became a lightning rod for investor anger over executive pay three years ago, received $2.83 million in 2015, 8.8 percent more than a year earlier, Gold Fields said in its annual report published yesterday. Returns from the producer’s shares including dividends plunged 19 percent in the period.

AngloGold, the biggest South African gold producer by market value, paid CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan $1.9 million last year, 28 percent more than in 2015, after forgoing bonuses in previous years. The company’s shares returned 4.5 percent last year.

AngloGold’s market value is 83 billion rand ($5.6 billion) compared with Gold Fields’ 48 billion rand.

Holland sparked an investor backlash after receiving 45.3 million rand in 2012. Old Mutual Plc fund manager Michael Schroder accused gold executives including Holland of “personal greed” amid poor performance. The Gold Fields CEO’s pay dropped by 45 percent the following year and he declined a cash bonus in response to governance failings relating to the company’s South Deep mine.

Sibanye Gold Ltd. CEO Neal Froneman received 19.9 million rand in 2015, a 55 percent increase on the previous year, according to its annual report. The company’s shares returned 4.4 percent in the period.

Graham Briggs, the former CEO of Harmony Gold Mining Co., was the lowest-paid leader of the four largest producers, taking home 10 million rand, a slight decrease from a year earlier. He left the role at the end of the year. Returns from Harmony’s shares declined 28 percent in 2015.

– Bloomberg