The latest statistics on executive pay packets reveal a small drop in the salaries of Australia's top business leaders.

A report by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors shows average pay for chief executives with the top 100 publicly listed companies was $4.7 million in the 2011-12 financial year.

The figure is $20,000 less than in the 2010-11 financial year.

Westfield's co-chief executives Peter and Steven Lowy topped the list, sharing a $21 million dollar salary.

ANZ chief executive Mike Smith earned $9.7 million, while Westpac head Gail Kelly's salary was $9.5 million.

ACSI chief executive Ann Byrne believes the small decline shows governance standards in Australia remain strong.

"The results of this year’s research support this contention, with declining pay outcomes indicating that boards have taken a more active stance on executive remuneration in response to increasing shareholder scrutiny in the years following the global financial crisis," she wrote in the report.

"While the results of this study will be welcomed by many investors, outcomes across the market over the past twelve years show that there is much to be done to ensure that pay outcomes reward delivery of company strategy and promote sustainable long-term performance."

The calculations for total pay include bonuses and shares.

Average bonuses paid to top-100 chief executives increased by 4.8 per cent for the year, compared with a decline in 2011.

The report says 82 per cent of chief executives received bonuses.

Average fixed pay to top-tier company bosses was steady for the year, at $1.9 million.

The biggest termination payment for the year was made to insurer QBE's former head Frank O'Halloran, who received $4.6 million when he left the company last year.

In the previous financial year, Leighton Holding's former chief Wal King received a $10.9 million termination payment.

 

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