BHP Mackenzie tightens senior executives’ belts: cuts bonuses, gives up shares

BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE: BHP) (LON: BLT), the world's largest mining company, said Friday it has cut the long-term bonuses of its senior executives by 35% because the total shareholders return has dipped over the last five years.

CEO Andrew Mackenzie, who took over in May, also gave up shares worth US$1.5 million (£943,000) at Thursday’s close, which were his sign-on award. As a result, the executive will collect 243,126 of the 450,964 shares that were originally available to him, which at the current price is worth about $7.2 million.

When Mackenzie was appointed in February this year, BHP had already started cutting operating costs and overheads, so the executive agreed to a base salary almost 25% less than what his predecessor, Marius Kloppers, used to make. He also accepted a lower pension payout and smaller maximum bonus.

Earlier this week, the Melbourne-based resource giant reported a 30% fall in full-year profits, hurt by falling prices for iron ore, coal and other raw materials due to a decline in demand from key markets, such as China.

According to the company's five-year incentive plan, agreed in 2008, BHP had to deliver a shareholder return that exceeded a group of peer companies by an average of 5.5% for the five-year period that ended on June 30 this year.

The mining giant said total shareholder return for its peers had fallen 44% over the period, while its own had dropped only 9.4%.

BHP has already embarked on a massive cost cutting programme, achieving an operating costs reduction of $2.7bn over the past 12 months to June 30.

The mining company is traded on 13 other exchanges in 6 countries and has a market capitalization of just over $200 billion.