WH Group CEO highest paid executive
China's Wan Long, the CEO and Chairman of world's biggest pork producer WH Group, received a compensation of 291 million USD last year, topping Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. While Cook received a compensation of 99 million USD, Musk got 150 million USD, according to Bloomberg. Notably, WH Group currently has a market value of about 15 billion USD.
The highest paid executive of a Hong Kong-listed company last year wasn’t a high-flying financier or real-estate tycoon. It was Wan Long, a former factory manager who helped turn a humble state-owned meat processor into the world’s biggest pork producer -- and in doing so built his own fortune. The pork boss topped high-profile American CEOs like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Lloyd Blankfein and was one of the best-paid executives anywhere in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
WH Group -- through subsidiaries Virginia-based Smithfield Foods and Chinese meat company Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co. -- operates hog farms and factories in China, the U.S. and Europe and also sells consumer brands like Farmland bacon and Eckrich sausage. Wan’s big 2017 compensation package wasn’t a fluke. Between 2013 and 2017, he received at least 759 million USD in salary and stock, according to company filings. His direct and indirect holdings in the company, held via multiple entities, jumped dramatically from about 9 percent in the year of its 2014 initial public offering to about 19 percent last year, according to its filings. WH currently has a market value of about 15 billion USD.
For some corporate governance experts, the size of Wan’s compensation raises questions. “It’s really a very amazing number,” said Roy Lo, managing partner at Shinewing Hong Kong, an accounting and consulting firm. “Compared with other listed companies it is very high.” WH’s director of investor relations, Luis Chein, said Wan deserved his 2017 reward for building its business and leading the 4.7 billion USD acquisition of Smithfield in 2013. The chairman has boosted profits and cut debt, and the board expects he will help the firm grow even more, Chein said. The company didn’t make Wan available for an interview.