Six CEOs of Winnipeg-based firms cracked the seven-figure mark in total compensation, tied for the most in the seven years the Free Press has examined the executive salaries and bonuses that public companies are required to release each year.
The highest-paid executive in the province once again -- but likely for the last time -- is Ray McFeetors, who is now chairman of Great-West Lifeco. He stepped down in the spring from the insurance giant's CEO position he had held for more than a decade, but not before pulling in $5.3 million in total compensation over the previous 12 months -- a record for a Manitoba-based CEO of a public company.
McFeetors' salary of $1.6 million would have been enough to place him No. 3 on the list, but he pulled in more than $3.5 million in bonuses, including $1.5 million for his role in Great-West's acquisition of Putnam Investments. That $4.6-billion deal made Great-West the 10th-largest player in the U.S. mutual fund business.
McFeetors earned $3.54 million the year before.
Only one other CEO, John Marinucci at New Flyer Industries, was able to crack the $2-million barrier, hitting $2.1 million in salary and bonuses. He will also fall off the list next year as he was replaced last month by Paul Soubry, the former president of Standard Aero.
The top five saw their compensation jump anywhere from 1.7 per cent (Blouin) to 170 per cent (Marinucci). Leonard Asper of Canwest Global Communications Corp., however, took a significant hit. His compensation fell by nearly 50 per cent to just over $1 million from more than $2 million a year earlier.
The salary information was pulled from management information circulars, which are released shortly before companies hold their annual meetings.
In compiling this list, the Free Press used the most recently released financial information. It varies from company to company because annual meetings are held at different points throughout the year.
Hugh Goldie, director of consulting at The Exchange Consulting Group, said it's far from a given that CEOs will make less money in 2009 as the impact of the economic downturn becomes better understood. Some could even earn more. The leaders who can steer their firms through the financial carnage will prove their worth and deserve to be compensated accordingly, he said.
"For the last 10 to 15 years, we've had (CEOs) making cakes from cake mix. You mix it up in a Mixmaster, bake it for 20 minutes and it's done. You couldn't lose. Everybody succeeded because of the economic situation. Now we have a different situation and it's not so easy," he said.
At the other end of the salary spectrum are four CEOs who didn't earn a single loonie from their firms. They all earn a salary from other business interests. Albert Friesen, for example, sits at No. 17 on the list thanks to his $272,500 compensation as CEO of Medicure Inc., but receives no money from three other companies on the list he leads.
Goldie said the economic downturn will likely cause changes in how compensation committees determine CEO compensation.
If the bottom line improves under a CEO's guidance, then the chief deserves a bonus, which can sometimes outstrip his salary, he said.
Only companies on the Winnipeg Free Press/Wellington West Capital Manitoba Index are included on the list.
Not every CEO has their salary published in their company's public documents. For example, Hartley Richardson, CEO of James Richardson & Sons Ltd., heads up one of the pillars of the Manitoba economy, but because the firm Richardson leads is a private company, his compensation does not have to be disclosed to the public.
How much do city business leaders earn?
Ray McFeetors, Great-West Lifeco
John Marinucci New Flyer Industries Inc.
Murray Taylor, IGM Financial
Pierre Blouin, Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.
Edward Kennedy, North West Company Fund
Leonard Asper, Canwest Global Communications Corp.
Armin Martens, Artis REIT
S.J. VanRoekel, Ridley Inc.
John Buhler, Buhler Industries
Keith McMahon, Arctic Glacier Income Fund
John Langstaff, Cangene Corp.
Terry Smith, Boyd Group Income Fund
Rob Stenson, Ag Growth Income Fund
Gordon Pollard/John Pollard, Pollard Banknote Income Fund (co-CEOs, both Pollards earn the same salary)
Dale Ginn, San Gold Corp.
(*Cox became publisher in July 2007 so his compensation figures are for a half-year each as editor and publisher. The $350,553 figure was earned by previous publisher, Andy Ritchie, in 2006.)
David Graves, IMRIS Inc.
Marieke Wijtkamp, OMT Inc.
Richard Rivet, King's Bay Gold Corp.
John Knowles, Wildcat Exploration Ltd.
(*The $96,000 figure represents the compensation of former CEO Shlomo Prizant in 2006.)
Robert Granger, Copper Reef Mining Corp.
Douglas Reeson, Gossan Resources Ltd.
Nelson Shodine, Bird River Mines Inc.
Cornelius Martens, All in West Capital Corp.
Albert Friesen, Diamedica Inc.
No compensation this year or last. (Genesys Venture Inc., a company controlled by Friesen, receives an annual fee of $200,000 for providing "certain business services.")
Arni Thorsteinson, Huntingdon REIT
Albert Friesen, Kane Biotech Inc.
Keith Levit, Lakeview Hotel REIT
Albert Friesen, Miraculins Inc.
Arni Thorsteinson, Temple REIT