When it comes to earning money, Mukesh Ambani is way not only way ahaed of his younger brother Anil, but head and shoulders over the top brass of India Inc.
With a package close to Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million), Mukesh takes home over 10 times the annual remuneration of his brother Anil, with whom he parted ways over two years ago.
When the brothers were together, they received a package of Rs 21.9 crore (Rs 219 million) each at Reliance Industries in the financial year 2004-05, according to information available in the company's annual report.
Mukesh was chairman and managing director at Reliance Industries, a position he continues to hold today. Anil was vice-chairman and managing director till June 18, 2005.
In the latest fiscal ended March 2007, Mukesh Ambani had a salary of Rs 24.51 crore (Rs 245.1 million) as CMD of Reliance Industries which is the highest among more than 10,000 top executives and directors at some 1,200 companies that have disclosed remuneration figures for the year.
Anil Ambani took home about Rs 2.42 crore (Rs 24.2 million) he got from three group companies -- Reliance Energy (Rs 2.34 crore or Rs 23.4 million), Reliance Communications (Rs 480,000) and Reliance National Resources Ltd (Rs 320,000). But he doesn't figure even in the top 100.
On the list after Mukesh Ambani is Sun TV Chairman and Managing Director Kalanithi Maran and Joint Managing Director Kavery Kalanithi, whose annual remuneration stood at Rs 23.26 crore (Rs 232.6 million) each in 2006-07.
Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal ranked fourth with a salary of about Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) and Dr Reddy's Labs Executive Chairman K Anji Reddy was fifth with a take home of Rs 14.4 crore (Rs 144 million).
Hero Honda's Chairman Brijmohan Lal Munjal and Managing Director and CEO Pawan Munjal were number six and number seven with Rs 13.99 crore (Rs 139.9 million) and Rs 13.88 crore (Rs 138.8 million) each. Jindal Steel's Executive Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Naveen Jindal (Rs 13.5 crore or RS 135 million), Hero Honda's Joint Managing Director Toshiaki Nakagawa (Rs 13.44 crore or Rs 134.4 million) and JSW Steel Vice Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal (Rs 13.24 crore or Rs 132.4 million) completed the top 10.
Commenting on the high salaries being drawn by the CEOs, Vipul Prakash, partner at hiring and executive search solutions provider Elixir Web Solutions', said: "Success today is linked to the head of an organisation and movements happen quickly.
In order to attract the best talent and retain them, organisations have to loosen their purse strings."
Elixir says it has placed 45 CEOs and also helped companies fill around 300 boardroom positions in the past year.
Besides a fixed cash package, companies also offer performance-linked packages like stock options to the CEOs.
"If a company performs well, the CEO gets a hike of 20 to 30 per cent on the fixed part of the salary. To add to it, the value of the stock goes up and year after year the amount of stocks also increases," Prakash added.
It is a general practice that a CEO gets 40 per cent of his salary at a fixed rate, 30 per cent variable and the remaining 30 per cent in stock options, he said.
The annual remuneration of as many as 15 executives stood at more than Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million). They included Cadila Health CMD Pankaj R Patel (Rs 12.43 crore or Rs 124.3 million), Dr Reddy's Labs MD and Chief Operating Officer Satish Reddy (Rs 10.87 crore or Rs 108.7 million), Dr Reddy's Labs Executive Vice Chairman and CEO G V Prasad (Rs 10.87 crore or Rs 108.7 million), Mercator Lines CMD Harish Kumar Mittal (Rs 10.07 crore or Rs 100.7 million) and Mercator Lines Joint MD Atul J Agarwal (Rs 10.07 crore or Rs 100.7 million).
More than 300 executives earned above a crore of rupees.
Narendra Kala, CEO, Matrix HR Solutions, said: "A CEO is placed at a high risk position, where delivery is very critical. He is the one answerable to the shareholders and he doesn't have the option to go wrong. Only an extraordinary person having complex competencies can be a CEO, and for such a gem of a person the company has to spend."
However, there are others who feel that the salaries of CEOs in India is still not at par with global standards.
Indian CEOs are underpaid in comparison to their counterparts abroad, although slowly they are coming to a parity, said Saurabh Azad, head of Finesse PR's HR Practice.
"Today when the Indian economy is competing in the global market, the salaries will have to be at par with international salaries, or else we will face a brain drain at the CEO level as well," Azad said.