Domino’s Pizza CEO tops ACSI’s highest-paid list

Domino’s Pizza chief, Don Meij has today found himself atop the list of Australia’s highest paid chief-executives, following news the pizza franchise boss is taking home $36.8 million per year, over 400 times the full-time average wage.

The news comes just weeks after Meij fronted the Senate at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Franchising Code of Conduct, defending the franchise against allegations of underpayment and misleading behaviour.

Produced by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), the report is based on ‘realised pay’, which takes the remuneration reported by each company in its annual report and adjusts according to the cash they receive from exercising share options and grants.

Commenting on the study outcomes, ACSI CEO Louise Davidson suggested the results may be a reflection of unnecessary bonus-payments.

“At a time when public trust in business is at a low ebb and wages growth is weak, board decision to pay large bonuses just for hitting budget targets rather than exceptional performance, are especially tone-deaf,” Davidson said.

“This may be a sign that boards have lost sight of the link between a company’s social licence and the expectations of communities and investors.”

For Meij however, the results are slightly misleading.

In the same report published in 2017, Meij reported a realised pay of $21 million, however in the financial year of 2017-18, on which the current report is based, Meij exercised share options worth over $35 million.

According to the report, Meij acquired 900,000 shares from the beginning of financial year 2017, before paying $15.81 million to exercise his options, netting him $53.11 million to fund option exercises, their impending tax liabilities and a much-publicised divorce settlement.

A spokesperson for Domino’s confirmed the significance of the share options to Meij’s reported remuneration.

“Domino’s does not as a practice comment on executive remuneration. However, it is important to clarify that the amount quoted in the report as remuneration for Mr Don Meij predominantly reflects the increase in the value of 600,000 share options granted in 2013 following shareholder approval and exercised by him in September 2016,” the spokesperson said.

“These were linked to the achievement of significant long-term targets for the business over a period of three years.”

“Over this time period, underlying Earnings Per Share more than tripled from 41.5c to 133.6c per share (a compound annual growth rate of 34.8%), to the benefit of shareholders in the Company.”

“As reported to the market at the time of exercise of the share options, Mr Meij retained 556,087 of the resulting shares, illustrating his commitment to the Company through an increase in his personal shareholding.”

The results of the ACSI report are a significant departure from Domino’s recent industry announcements.

Inside Franchise Business reported earlier this month that Domino’s shares had plunged to their lowest level in more than month following an investor stock dump stemming from analyst downgrades.

Of the top 10, Meij was the only chief-executive to be involved with a franchising-based model.