How much money the “average Joe” CEO earns in South Africa


The CEOs of large JSE-listed companies often make headlines for having some of the highest salaries in the country – comparable even to many international executives.

And a brief assessment of ‘small cap’ companies shows that many CEOs in this category also draw significant wages.

There is no strict definition for a “small cap” company – those companies with a ‘small market capitalisation’ – but many investors and funds peg them to have a value of around R3 billion. By comparison, South Africa’s most valuable company, Naspers, boasts a current market cap that borders R1 trillion.

Research published earlier in the year found that the average salary for a CEO of listed company in South Africa was R5.3 million – shooting up to R9 million when bonuses and incentives are included.

When looking at the larger companies on the JSE, in terms of market cap, it’s unsurprising that chief executives of these highly profitable groups take home a much larger salary than those running smaller operations.

BusinessTech looks at the wage gap between the top 10 most prominent large cap companies on the JSE, versus 10 prominent small cap companies.

Large cap companies

Company Market Cap CEO salary
Naspers R965 billion R21 million
Richemont R471 billion R150 million
Steinhoff R346 billion R74.6 million
Sasol R272 billion R15.9 million
MTN R267 billion R40.6 million
FirstRand R250 billion R29.5 million
Vodacom R247 billion R10.9 million
Standard Bank R195 billion R24.3 million
Anglo American R194 billion R73.9 million
Old Mutual R189 billion R104 million
Average R340 billion R54.5 million

Compagnie Financière Richemont SA recently made waves by rewarding its two co-CEOs with a combined package of R300 million in the past financial year (roughly R150 million each). On top of this, chairman, Johann Rupert, walked away with R50 million.

This massive payout (which was in Swiss Francs) skews the top tier data, drawing the average up to approximately R54.5 million for large cap companies.

It is also noticeable which executives get paid in foreign currency, as their salaries are overall significantly larger than those who earn in rands, thanks to the weak exchange rate.

But even small-cap companies can venture north of the average. The 10 prominent small cap groups sampled below show the average CEO earns R6.2 million, compared to R54.5 million average paid to CEOs of some of the biggest companies in South Africa.

Small cap companies

Company Market Cap CEO salary
Consolidated Infrastructure R4.3 billion R10.3 million
Spur Corporation R3.5 billion R5.6 million
Tower Property Fund R2.5 billion R1.6 million
Adcorp R1.8 billion R18.2 million
Grand Parade R1.8 billion R8.6 million
Adapt IT R1.7 billion R3.3 million
ARB Holdings R1.3 billion R3.6 million
Bowler Metcalf R893 million R2.6 million
Taste Holdings R825 million R5.2 million
Ellies R310 million R2.9 million
Average R1.9 billion R6.2 million

A report by Moneyweb in February,  looked at the basic and total salaries of over 730 executive directors from 329 listed companies on the JSE.

All data was sourced from annual reports, and Statistics SA’s Quarterly Employment Survey for the second quarter of 2015.

It found the following:

  • The average executive in South Africa earns a basic salary of R4 million, jumping to R7 million with short and long-term incentives included.
  • Chief executives earn an average basic salary of R5.3 million, jumping to R9 million with incentives included.

Unsurprisingly, executive directors who earn in local currency were paid less, overall, with an average of R3.4 million (R5.7 million including incentives), versus those earning in other currencies, which averaged a basic salary of R7.8 million (R16 million with incentives).

Financial services company, PwC, found that the median total guaranteed pay (TGP) among CEOs on the JSE in 2014 was R4.13 million.

Chief Executive Officers

CEO – All of JSE 2013 2014 %
Upper Quartile  R6.624m R7.135m 7.7%
R3.943m R4.130m 4.8%
Lower Quartile  R3.002m R3.064m 2.1%


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