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Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 09:15 GMT

Business: The Company File

UK 'fat cats' top EU league

The UK has the fattest cats in Europe, although we still lag behind our US counterparts, according to a survey by business magazine Management Today.

Just last week the title of fattest cat in the UK went to the chief executive of drugs giant SmithKline Beecham, Jan Leschly, who last year received £92m ($147m) in a combination of pay, perks and shares.

Steven Clements, PricewaterhouseCooper: Main reason is performance-related pay scheme in UK
Although most UK company executives earn nowhere near such a record-breaking figure, their average salary of almost £400,000 ($640,000) a year is not to be sniffed at.

Company bosses in the US are still way ahead in the "super cat" league with annual packages worth £650,000.

[ image: Jan Leschly's £92m pay package puts him way ahead of other UK bosses]
Jan Leschly's £92m pay package puts him way ahead of other UK bosses
The report found that the average American chief executive earned almost twice as much as any other nationality, with top executives in the UK making it comfortably into second place.

The report also found that qualified accountants in Britain earned about £55,000 a year - higher than even the US.

But Management Today also discovered that British bosses worked longer hours than anyone else and were the cheapest employees to dispose of, once they become surplus to requirements.

UK companies are the least generous in the developed world when laying off workers, with average severance pay in manufacturing just 23% of fixed salaries compared with 131% in Japan.

More PRP

Steven Clements, a director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who specialises in the relationship between salary and value creation, says UK bosses earn more than anywhere else in Europe because there is much greater use of profit-related pay (PRP) and stock options than on the continent.

He says the practice of awarding stock options, for example, got started only recently in Germany.

Mr Clements also said that because the UK labour market was far less regulated than in France and Germany, hours worked tended to be longer and holidays tended to be shorter.

The UK regime was much closer to that in the US because similar culture and language allowed for greater ease of movement between the two employment markets.

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