* Most profitable banks pay CEOs the least - ISS data
* Some loss-making banks pay bosses the most - survey
* Santander, UBS, Credit Suisse chiefs top pay scale
* BNP, Nordea, ING chiefs among least well rewarded
By John O'Donnell
FRANKFURT, March 31 Some of Europe's most
profitable lenders pay their chief executives the least, data
from shareholder advisory group ISS shows, while loss-making
banks reward their bosses more lavishly.
Despite caps on bank bonuses introduced across much of
Europe after the financial crisis, pay still varies widely -
sometimes independently of profit - the survey of 11 of Europe's
biggest banks, which was compiled by ISS for Reuters, reveals.
The ISS data, which compares CEO pay, pension and benefits
in 2016, shows the CEOs of Credit Suisse and Deutsche
Bank received 7.3 and 4.7 million euros ($5 million)
respectively. Both banks made heavy losses last year after big
legal penalties relating to their investment banking activities.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jean Laurent Bonnafe, CEO
of France's BNP Paribas and Casper von Koskull of
Swedish retail bank Nordea earned less than half as
much although their banks recorded profit of 7.7 billion euros
and 3.8 billion euros.
The ISS calculations, compiled using company data, may vary
from the headline figures highlighted by the banks as is
includes cash and benefits actually paid, such as towards a
The contrast revealed in the data comes as Credit Suisse CEO
Tidjane Thiam and Deutsche Bank chief John Cryan put their
companies' broad policy on executive pay up for approval at
shareholder meetings where they face investor unrest.
"Pay tends to be explained as high risk, high reward. But
the payouts can remain high, regardless of result," Andrew
Gebelin of Glass Lewis, an advisory group influential among
investors, told Reuters.
"We would anticipate more controversy over pay at banks in
the months ahead. There has been quite a growth in shareholder
opposition. It is high on their list of concerns."
Last year, Credit Suisse racked up a 2.7 billion Swiss franc
loss, its second in a row, after a trading mishap and a $5
billion penalty for the sale of toxic mortgage debt.
CEO Thiam, who has been awarded 19 million francs worth of
bank stock since joining in 2015, as agreed in his contract,
increased the bonus pool as he sought to keep staff on board.
Each staff member in its investment banking and capital
markets division earned 400,000 Swiss francs on average - while
the business made a pretax profit equivalent to just 84,000
francs per head.
The Swiss bank, which benchmarks itself against rivals in
the U.S. and Europe when setting pay, declined to comment.
Last year, Deutsche also reported a loss of 1.4 billion
euros after a similar fine.
Cryan, who waived his bonus, will present a fresh pay plan
for executives tied closer to performance in May after
shareholders voted down the one proposed last year.
Thomas Philippon of New York University, who has studied pay
among investment banks, said they had been too slow to cut.
"They reduced the wage bill mostly by cutting staff, not by
cutting wages," he said, commenting on the sector.
Cutting pay may prove critical in winning over investors,
particularly for Deutsche, which is calling on shareholders for
fresh funds, while Credit Suisse is considering doing the same.
However, the mood among investors is increasingly critical,
with Larry Fink, head of fund giant Blackrock, a large
shareholder in banks, warning in a letter to company heads that
it would be willing to vote down bad pay deals. Norway's wealth
fund also told Reuters it was taking a closer look at pay.
One investor, speaking privately, was more blunt about
investment banks. "Their business model is that the minute they
do well, most of their employees take the gravy," he said.
Wages have shrunk since 2010, when the former chief
executive of Credit Suisse, Brady Dougan, received nearly 90
million Swiss francs. Nonetheless, some investors want them to
fall further and hold the Netherlands up as an example.
"There are different cultures across companies in Europe,"
said Gebelin of Glass Lewis. "The Netherlands has an extremely
restrictive pay regime, as does Sweden, but that doesn't hold
for Switzerland or the UK."
Ralph Hamers, ING's chief executive, known for
visiting bank branches and taking selfies with staff, reported a
4.7 billion euro profit last year, but even after receiving
almost the maximum bonus allowed under Dutch law, he was paid
2.6 million euros.
($1 = 0.9314 euros)
(Additional reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Anjuli
Davies in London; editing by Alexander Smith)