Australia Post’s former chief walks away with $10.79 million

Ex-Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour’s final pay packet is more than $10 million. Picture: Kym Smith
Ex-Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour’s final pay packet is more than $10 million. Picture: Kym Smith

His salary was shrouded in secrecy, prompting controversy when it was unveiled in a Senate committee.

Now it's been revealed Australia Post's recently departed chief executive Ahmed Fahour is walking away with a whopping $10.79 million for his last year in the job, almost double the $5.6 million he was paid in 2016 - already 10 times the salary of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Fahour, who resigned in February, will take home more than $8.7 million worth of bonus payments in addition to his base salary of more than $2 million, the government-owned company revealed on Friday.

It places him among the nation's highest-paid chief executives, up there with corporate titans at Telstra and BHP.

The figures are detailed in Australia Post's remuneration report, released along with its annual financial results as part of the organisation's new commitment to transparency.

"We understand that community expectations have changed, there's no question about that, regarding pay or executive remuneration," chairman John Stanhope said, adding that Mr Fahour's contract had been drawn up "before my time" in 2010, with the aim of "enticing a high-level, talented executive to transform Australia Post".

But, while the company posted a full-year profit of $95 million and noted an increase in customer satisfaction, not everyone is pleased.

One disgruntled customer posted to AusPost's Facebook page that Mr Fahour "should hang his head in shame", complaining about a birthday card that took 10 days to get to its destination, along with the rising cost of stamps.

Mr Stanhope was at pains to emphasise that the AusPost board was contractually bound to pay out the bonuses, telling reporters: "I want to make clear there is no termination payment; this is all about performance - contractual performance."

New chief executive Christine Holgate will be paid substantially less than her predecessor, having taken a pay cut from her previous role at Blackmores to take the helm at AusPost.

Her base salary will be $1.4 million, with a potential $1.4 million bonus that would double her earnings to $2.8 million - which still makes her the nation's highest paid public servant.

"Pay has never been the driver for me wanting to do a job," Ms Holgate said after her appointment was announced in June, revealing that her only request to the board was to "pay me what you think is fair".

Mr Stanhope said a major reason for Mr Fahour's hefty final pay packet was the $4 million worth of long-term incentives that accrued during the past three years.

"We are not talking about a $10 million, one-year salary," he said.

He said AusPost's senior executives would also have their pay cut, close to 20% in real terms, as long-term bonuses had been slashed across the business.

"We decided to go with a short-term incentive plan to get annual hurdles met and drive the senior team to perform that way.

"I'm not trying to set a benchmark for Australia here, but long-term incentives probably drive performance not as strongly."

Australia Post nearly trebled its full-year profit to $95 million in Mr Fahour's final year as chief executive, boosted by another strong performance by its parcels unit.

Parcels' pre-tax profit rose 4.8% to $299.7 million in what AusPost said was a very competitive market, but the number of letters sent in the 12 months to June 30 fell by a further 11.8% with that business losing $180.2 million before tax.

Overall net profit rose from 2016's $36 million and acting chief executive Christine Corbett said its move to becoming a major player in delivering goods bought online was paying off.

She said the success of the parcels business, which was the cornerstone of the turnaround from a $222 million full-year loss in 2015, was allowing Australia Post to reinvest in other parts of its business.

Strong parcels growth is expected to continue in the 2018 financial year but further declines in letter volumes will put pressure on Australia Post's bottom line, Ms Corbett said.

"The letters business still presents a significant challenge, with our largest ever 12-month volume decline experienced this year," she said.

Topics:  australia post

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