How much do ocean shipping executives make per year? The answer depends on whether you’re talking about professional CEOs or shipowners who are the final decision-maker behind the scenes, whether they are the CEOs or not.
Earnings in the latter category are from ownership, not salaries. That’s how the big shipping fortunes are made. German shipowner Klaus-Michael Kuehn ranked 39th on Forbes’ “Richest in 2023” list, with total estimated net worth of $39.1 billion. MSC owner Gianluigi Aponte was 43rd, with $31.2 billion. Israel’s Idan Ofer was at No. 127 ($14 billion). Shipping tycoon John Fredriksen was No. 130 ($13.7 billion)
Compensation data on professional CEOs is disclosed by some, but not all, listed shipping companies.
Disclosures on the prior year’s CEO compensation are usually filed by late spring, in connection with annual general meetings (AGMs). This year, there was a straggler — Zim (NYSE: ZIM) — which just filed its compensation disclosure Tuesday for an AGM in October.
The total compensation of the top 11 ocean shipping CEOs whose figures were disclosed averaged $4.7 million in 2022, up 19% from 2021, with an average of 50% paid in cash and 50% in stock. In all cases, the companies these CEOs ran were highly profitable last year.
Shipping CEO compensation ranking
Gary Vogel, Eagle Bulk (NYSE: EGLE). 2022 compensation: $7.004 million. Composition: 73% stock, 27% cash. Change vs. 2021: plus 78%. Eagle Bulk is an owner of midsize dry bulk carriers. Vogel was in the middle of the compensation pack in 2021 but has shot to the top due to much higher stock awards. Eagle Bulk reported net income of $248 million in 2022 compared to $185 million in 2021. Net income in the first half of this year was $21 million.
David Grzebinski, Kirby Corporation (NYSE: KEX). 2022 compensation: $6.168 million. Composition: 64% cash, 36% stock. Change vs. 2021: plus 6%. Kirby is the largest owner of inland tank barges in the U.S. It also operates coastal tank barges and runs a non-shipping division that provides engine and equipment distribution and services. Kirby reported net income of $122 million in 2022 compared to a net loss of $247 million in 2021. In the first half of this year, it posted net income of $98 million.
Soren Skou, AP Moller-Maersk. 2022 compensation: 43.605 million Danish kroner ($6.162 million). Composition: 71% cash, 29% stock and options. Change vs. 2021: minus 7%. Maersk is the world’s second-largest container line operator. Skou retired at the end of 2022, after presiding over the most profitable year in Maersk’s history. The company reported net income of $29.3 billion in 2022 versus $17.9 billion in 2021. Under its current CEO, Vincent Clerc, Maersk has posted net income of $3.8 billion in the first half of 2023.
Matt Cox, Matson (NYSE: MATX). 2022 compensation: $6.028 million. Composition: 45% cash, 55% stock. Change vs. 2021: plus 1%. Matson is a niche container line with Jones Act service as well as Asia-West Coast premium service. It is the 28th-largest carrier in the world with only a 0.2% share of global capacity, according to Alphaliner. But it has punched above its weight on the earnings front: Matson had record net income of $1.06 billion in 2022 compared to $927 million in 2021. Net income was $115 million in the first six months of 2023.
Eli Glickman, Zim. 2022 compensation: $6.005 million. Composition 43% cash, 57% stock. Change versus 2021: minus 39%. Glickman’s compensation package in 2021 — at $9.9 million — far exceeded the pay packages of CEOs of much larger companies, putting him at the top of that year’s compensation ranking. However, most of that was in stock, calculated based on the stock prices at the time. Zim’s stock price has fallen far from its lofty boom-era peaks, bringing Glickman’s compensation back in line with other carrier CEOs. Zim, the world’s 10th-largest ocean carrier, reported net income of $4.629 billion in 2022, just below the record $4.649 billion in 2021. The carrier has posted a net loss of $271 million for the first half of 2023.
Lois Zabrocky, International Seaways (NYSE: INSW). 2022 compensation: $5.409 million. Composition: 45% cash, 65% stock. Change versus 2021: plus 78%. International Seaways owns a fleet of crude and product tankers. Zabrocky’s compensation surged year on year as a result of stock awards. The company posted net income of $388 million in 2022 versus a net loss of $134 million the year before. The positive earnings momentum has continued this year. International Seaways posted net income of $326 million for the first half.
John Wobensmith, Genco Shipping & Trading (NYSE: GNK). 2022 compensation: $4.95 million. Composition: 36% cash, 64% stock. Change versus 2021: plus 89%. Genco owns a fleet of larger and mid-sized dry bulk carriers. Wobensmith’s compensation was much higher in 2022 than the year before due to stock awards. Genco posted net income of $159.3 million in 2022 compared to $182 million in 2021, with net income of $14 million in the first half of 2023.
Rolf Habben Jansen, Hapag-Lloyd. 2022 compensation: 2.994 million euros ($3.155 million). Composition: 65% cash, 35% stock. Change versus 2021: plus 2%. Hapag-Loyd is the fifth-largest container line operator in the world. It posted record net income of $17.96 billion in 2022 compared to $10.75 billion in 2021. First-half 2023 profits were $3.13 billion.
John Hadjipateras, Dorian LPG (NYSE: LPG). 2022 compensation: $2.585 million. Composition: 60% cash, 40% stock. Change versus 2021: plus 10%. Dorian LPG operates a fleet of very large gas carriers that transport propane and butane, primarily from the U.S. and Middle East to Asia. Dorian’s fiscal year runs through March. It posted net income in its latest fiscal year of $172 million versus $72 million the year before.
Sam Norton, Overseas Shipholding Group (NYSE: OSG). 2022 compensation: $2.732 million. Composition: 55% cash, 45% stock. Change versus 2021: plus 2%. OSG operates a fleet of product tankers, crude carriers and tug barges, primarily in the Jones Act sector. Net income was $27 million in 2022 versus a net loss of $46 million the year before. First-half 2023 net income was $24 million.
Jacob Meldgaard, Torm (NASDAQ: TRMD). 2022 compensation: $2.234 million. Stock versus cash composition was undisclosed. Change versus 2021: minus 8%. Torm owns a fleet of long-range and medium-range product tankers. It posted net income of $563 million in 2022 compared to a net loss of $42 million in 2021. First-half 2023 net income was $339 million.
Other executive compensation disclosures
Many U.S.-listed commodity shipping owners are so-called “foreign private issuers” and do not have to report individual compensation. Rather, they report aggregate compensation for management teams.
Most of the foreign private issuers reported total team compensation in the range of $2 million to $3 million for 2022, although there were two big outliers: mixed-fleet owner Navios Partners (NYSE: NMM) and product-carrier owner Scorpio Tankers (NYSE: STNG).
Scorpio Tankers’ compensation to its executive team totaled $46.44 million in 2022, comprising 70% in salaries and 30% in stock. The team’s compensation more than doubled versus $22.96 million the prior year, with salary compensation increasing six-fold and share-based compensation down 21%.
Combined compensation for Navios Partners’ executive team was even higher, at $50.2 million in 2022, up 74% year on year.
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