By Tom Walker
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2226

How much?! Bosses live it up while we face cuts

This article is over 11 years, 7 months old
While we’re all told that we need to "tighten our belts", there’s one set of waistlines that won’t be feeling the pinch—the top fatcat bosses whose income rose by 55 percent last year.
Issue 2226
Squeaky clean? Bart Becht.
Squeaky clean? Bart Becht.

While we’re all told that we need to “tighten our belts”, there’s one set of waistlines that won’t be feeling the pinch—the top fatcat bosses whose income rose by 55 percent last year.

Directors of FTSE 100 companies popped the champagne corks as they paid themselves an average of a cool £4.9 million a year, a report from pay monitoring group Incomes Data Services reveals.

“Short of throwing a champagne celebration for themselves outside a Merthyr Tydfil jobcentre, FTSE 100 bosses could not have shown less tact,” wrote Jonathan Guthrie in the Financial Times.

Here Socialist Worker looks at the top bosses’ lavish lifestyles—excess that exposes the Tory lie that we’re “all in it together”.

Bart Becht

chief executive,

Reckitt Benckiser

Pay £92.6 million a year

He is by far Britain’s highest paid boss and lives in an enormous mansion overlooking the Sunningdale golf course in Berkshire.

He banked more than £200 million in the last five years alone from the firm, which makes cleaning products like Cillit Bang and Vanish as well as drugs like Nurofen and Strepsils.

Becht himself has admitted that Reckitt Benckiser sells “very stupid products”.

But he doesn’t mind: they make him £1.8 million a week. That’s £250,000 a day—or £3 every single second of every single day, even when he’s sleeping.

He pockets more than 3,000 workers at the firm do put together.

Tony Pidgley

executive director,

Berkeley Group Holdings

Pay £36.4 million a year

Pidgley’s 16th century house is set in 100 acres in Windsor. But his firm, housebuilders Berkeley, prefers to build tiny flats in London and charge £300,000 for them.

The company made a killing from the property boom, then pulled back sharply as the crisis started to hit.

Boss Pidgley is now worth £123 million and drives a Bentley. He says he met his wife Sarah “at a lunch at the Berkshire Polo Club”.

Mick Davis

chief executive, Xstrata

Pay £25.5 million a year

Davis—“Big Mick” to his friends, apparently—is the fatcat behind mining giant Xstrata. The firm has interests in gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc and coal.

The South African used to be a boss of electricity supplier Eskom under the apartheid regime.

He made his name with a £1.8 billion deal to buy 25 coal mines in South Africa and Australia, then doubled the company’s size by taking over Australia’s MIM group.

“We are generally an opportunistic bunch,” Davis has said.

Davis was one of the most high-profile supporters of the Tories’ pre-election campaign against Labour’s planned increase in employers’ national insurance contributions.

Michael Spencer

chief executive, ICAP

Pay £24.3 million a year

Spencer, the boss of the world’s biggest money broker ICAP, has beens described as “the City’s richest man” with his incredible fortune of £1.1 billion.

He is a close friend of prime minister David Cameron, having been the Tory Party’s treasurer until earlier this year. And he is still one of the Tories’ biggest donors.

At the Tories’ conference this year, the day before Osborne’s big speech on cuts, Spencer hosted a four-course champagne dinner for VIP guests.

They drank 36 bottles of £145-a-bottle Dom Perignon, 36 bottles of Chalunmeaux at £80 each, and 24 bottles of Chateau Filhot, worth £120 each.

The guests also enjoyed a £400-a-head meal.

And not content with that, he laid on 24 bottles of Petrus—the most expensive wine in the world at £1,500 a bottle—from his private wine cellar.

Asked who was there, he said, “David did attend… George Osborne, who is a close personal friend, dropped in too.”

He has homes in London’s Holland Park, Suffolk and Manhattan.

Bob Diamond

executive director, Barclays

Pay £18.1 million a year

Diamond is a lifelong US Republican Party supporter—and now an adviser to Tory London mayor Boris Johnson.

This sharp-suited banker is worth an estimated £90 million.

As the proud owner of the remnants of Lehman Brothers, he often speaks out to defend the banks from criticism.

“It’s disappointing when we hear reference to banks as casinos,” he said last month.

“Words like ‘casino banking’ generally come from people who don’t understand what a bank does.”

But even Lord Mandelson has called him the “unacceptable face of banking”.

Diamond’s house in Kensington has 8,000 square feet of space, complete with swimming pool, gym and an underground garage—for seven cars.

Remember all these parasites the next time Tories talk about acting in the “national interest”.

Michael Spencer with chum David Cameron
Michael Spencer with chum David Cameron

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance