CEOs in Spain and Italy have the highest pay in Europe

In Italy, CEOs have a full plate while youths suffer.
In Italy, CEOs have a full plate while youths suffer.
Image: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong
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As Spain and Italy’s economies are seriously struggling, its top executives are thriving.

CEOs salaries in those two countries are higher there than in any other part of Europe, according to a new report on pay by the The Federation of European Employers.

An Italian CEO of a multinational could earn as much as €1,144 per hour, or $2.75 million a year, while in the UK, the top CEO salary is about half that at €592 an hour. Salary figures do not include bonuses, share options, car allowances and other extra payments.

Spanish CEOs also squeezed out sweet pay—a median for a multinational was €788 per hour and maxxed out at €946. Though the bosses are paid richly in Spain, secretary’s pay reaches only €12.41 an hour.

Overall, the highest paid mid-level jobs in Europe were found in Denmark, though its wage gap with Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein “is now closing fast,” reported Robin Chater, FedEE secretary-general.

In some corporations, senior executive pay may experience a rise as bonus payments are converted into base salaries, the report indicates.

The wage gaps in southern and eastern Europe could fuel the debate about capping senior executive pay levels. Activists and political leaders have demanded more disclosures and proposed pay caps in several countries, and Spain and Greece raised taxes on their highest earning citizens.

While the Italian executives had the highest hourly wage, their base salary did not increase last year, a Hay Group survey showed. By contrast, Swiss senior executives saw the biggest increases: 4.8%. Of course, the Swiss unemployment rate is 3.1% compared to Spain’s 17%.