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India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Last updated on: November 20, 2009 12:47 IST

Rediff Business Desk in Mumbai

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the richest of them all? As far as India's business honchos are concerned, even a kid will get the answer right. It's none other than Reliance chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani.

Though his net worth is $32 billion, and is the richest Indian according to a Forbes list, when it comes to CEO remuneration for 2008-09, this Ambani sibling is ranked way below at number 19, by a study conducted by Business India.

This ranking, however, does not surprise anyone, as, in October this year, Reliance Industries had announced that its chief has decided to lower his pay package by nearly two-thirds to Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) for 2008-09.

As a result of scaling down his package from over Rs 44 crore (Rs 440 million) in 2007-08 to Rs 15 crore, Mukesh Ambani got a lot less than many other industrialists and executives heading companies with a size less than one-tenth of RIL.

Interestingly, Mukesh Ambani by virtue of holding 49.03 per cent in RIL, earned a whopping Rs 930 crore (Rs 9.3 billion) in dividends.

So which Indian CEO earns the highest salary? Click on NEXT to find out...

Note: The dollar figures are approximate, as the exchange rate changes

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Anil Dhirubhai Ambani

Remuneration in 2008-09: Rs 52.04 crore ($11.19 million)
Commission: Rs 52.04 crore

The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group is among India's top three private sector business houses with a market capitalisation of Rs 325,000 crore ($81 billion), net assets in excess of Rs 115,000 crore ($29 billion), and net worth to the tune of Rs 55,000 crore ($14 billion).

Anil Ambani joined Reliance in 1983 as co-chief executive officer. After the split in Reliance Group, Anil Ambani founded ADAG. He is the chairman of all the listed Group companies, which include: Reliance Communications, Reliance Capital, Reliance Energy and Reliance Natural Resources Limited.

It maybe noted that Anil earned the above compensation from Reliance Capital, Reliance Communications and Reliance Infra.

The bitter sibling battle that started with the issue of ownership of RIL continues to rage even today. The latest is over the KG (Krishna-Godavari) Basin gas and who has the right to sell the gas produced and at what price.

The battle for natural gas has two of India's biggest corporate slugging it out in the Supreme Court.

Earlier, his plans to merge Reliance Communications with South Africa's MTN were scuttled after brother Mukesh threatened to sue, claiming he had right of first refusal.

Anil's Hollywood ambitions took shape when Reliance Entertainment invested $500 million in a new studio venture with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks and signed A-list actors George Clooney, Jim Carrey and Julia Roberts to co-produce future films.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Image: Kalanithi Maran with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Courtesy, Sun TV

Kalanithi Maran, chairman and managing director, Sun TV

Kavery Kalanithi, joint managing director, Sun TV

Remuneration: Rs 37.08 crore ($7.99 million)
Commission: NA

Maran derives his fortune from 77 per cent stake in Sun TV Network, country's biggest regional broadcaster, with 20 channels.

He also owns FM radio stations, newspapers and magazines. Besides, Sun Pictures a film production outfit Maran also owns Sun Direct, a direct-to-home satellite TV service provider. It was launched in 2007 in partnership with Malaysia's Astro.

Recent media reports said Maran is close to sealing a deal to acquire Star Aviation for over Rs 1,000 crore (Ra 10 billion). Star Aviation, owned by Dubai-based NRI, Syed Mohammad, was the first carrier to get an approval to operate a regional airline in the southern part of India. It has asked the government for time up to June 2010 to launch its services after missing a previous deadline.

Kavery also earns the same remuneration.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Image: Inset: P R Ramasubrahmaneya Rajha.

P R Ramasubrahmaneya Rajha, chairman and managing director, Madras Cements

Remuneration: Rs 28.71 crore ($6.2 million)
Commission: Rs 28.40 crore ($6.1 million)

In 1962 Rajha joined the company. With 2447 employees, Madras cement is the fifth largest cement producer in India.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Photographs: Courtesy: Naveen Jindal's website.

Naveen Jindal, executive vice chairman & managing director, Jindal Steel & Power

Remuneration: Rs 28.28 crore ($6.09 million)
Commission: Rs 20.36 crore ($4.38 million)

Jindal is also the chairman of Jindal Power Limited, which is running the 1,000 MW O P Jindal Super Thermal Power Plant at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh - India's first mega power project in the private category.

Jindal currently holds several senior positions in various trade bodies.

He was listed among 25 Indians who were part of the annual list of 250 Global Young Leaders in 2007 prepared by the Geneva Based World Economic Forum.

Jindal is also a Member of Parliament and a sports enthusiast.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Malvinder Mohan Singh, ex-chairman, CEO and MD, Ranbaxy

Remuneration: Rs 23.72 crore ($5.09 million)
Commission: NA

Malvinder Singh stepped down, within a year of Japanese giant Daiichi Sankyo acquiring Ranbaxy, marking an end of family's 48-year long association with the company.

Singh is a promoter of Fortis Healthcare Limited and Religare Wellness Ltd.

Singh served as the chief executive officer and managing director of Ranbaxy Laboratories from January 18, 2006 to May 24, 2009 and its chairman from December 2008 to May 2009.

Singh joined Ranbaxy in 1998 and worked through various functions of general management, sales and marketing, finance and business development. He was responsible for the company's global operations.

After Singh quit, Atul Sobti, the then chief operating officer took over as CEO and managing director.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director, Bharti Airtel

Remuneration: Rs 20.90 crore ($ 4.48 million)
Commission: NA

A first generation entrepreneur, Mittal started his first business in April 1976 at the age of 18, with a capital investment of Rs 20,000 borrowed from his father. His first business was to make crankshafts for local bicycle manufacturers.

In 1980 he sold his bicycle parts and yarn factories and moved to Mumbai.

In 1981, he purchased importing licences from exporting companies in Punjab. He then imported thousands of Suzuki Motors's portable electric-power generators from Japan.

In 1984, he started assembling push-button phones.

In 1992, he successfully bid for 1 of the 4 mobile phone network licences auctioned in India. His plans were finally approved by the government in 1994 and the services were launched in Delhi in 1995.

The UK based telecommunication giant, Vodafone and Singapore's SingTel both own stakes in Bharti Airtel.

In November 2006, he struck a joint venture deal with Wal-Mart, the US retail giant, to start a number of retail stores across India.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Image: INOX Tower

Vivek Kumar Jain, managing director, Gujarat Fluorochemicals 

Remuneration: Rs 20.73 crore ($4.45 million)
Commission: NA

Vivek Kumar Jain is a graduate of Commerce from St Stephens College Delhi and also has a post graduate degree in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. He has over 25 years of rich business experience in setting up and managing several businesses.

Gujarat Fluorochemicals Limited is a part of the $2 billion INOX group of companies -- a family owned, professionally managed business group, with interests in diverse businesses.

Listed on both the Bombay Stock Exchange and national Stock Exchange, GFL has a market capitalisation of close to $1 billion.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Gautam Adani, chairman, Adani Group

Remuneration: Rs 20.03 crore ($ 4.30 million)
Commission:  Rs 17.64 crore ($ 3.78 million)

Adani started his career as a diamond sorter at Mahindra Bros in Mumbai. After working there for two years, Adani, 20 at the time, set up his own diamond brokerage outfit at Zaveri Bazaar and made his first lakh.

In 1981, his elder brother Mansukhbhai, bought a plastics unit in Ahmedabad and asked Gautam to run it. This marked the beginning of Adani's foray into global trading. He started importing polyvinyl chloride. After the economic liberalisation, the import duty on various goods was slashed, and profits of Adani Exports, then his flagship company, grew immensely.

Today, the Adani Group has transformed into a multi billion dollar businees empire with interests in power, infrastructure, trading, energy logistics, SEZs, and oil and gas exploration. Adani is the man behind Mundra Port, the largest private sector port in India.

The above salary is from his companies, Mundra Ports and Adani Enterprises.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Photographs: Reuters

Brijmohan Lall Munjal, chairman, Hero Honda

Remuneration: Rs 19.79 crore ($4.24 million)
Commission: Rs 18.61 crore ($3.99 million)

B M Munjal's journey began in 1944 when he was just 20. Along with his three brothers, Dayanand (32), Satyanand (27) and Om Prakash (16) Munjal moved from his birthplace Kamalia in Pakistan to Amritsar. The brothers started supplying components to the local bicycle business.

In 1952 the Munjals shifted supplying to manufacturing. They started manufacturing handlebars, front forks and chains.

In 1956, the Punjab Government issued tender notices for twelve new industrial licenses to make bicycles in Ludhiana. Munjal and his brothers participated in the bid and won the contract. Hero Cycles was registered as a large-scale industrial unit. The capital was partly financed by the Government of Punjab.

Before entering into a joint venture with Honda Motors, Munjal started the Majestic Auto Limited and manufactured Hero Majestic Moped.

For his outstanding contribution to the success of Hero Group, Munjal was honored with Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2001.

India's 10 highest paid CEOs

Photographs: Reuters

Pawan Munjal, managing director and CEO, Hero Honda

Remuneration: Rs 19.69 crore ($4.22 million)
Commission: Rs 18.61 crore ($3.99 million)

A graduate in mechanical engineering, Pawan Munjal has been instrumental in bringing about technological and managerial excellence in Hero Honda's operations.

Munjal, who is responsible for growth and strategic planning for the entire group has been the chairman of several committees of Confederation of Indian Industry, anf also on the board of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.

Under his guidance, Hero Honda launched the Hero Indian Sports Academy in collaboration with Laureus Foundation to provide equal opportunities in sports to various communities and to reward talent in the country.