Japanese internet and telecom conglomerate SoftBank Corp paid its newly appointed president and COO Nikesh Arora about 16.5 billion yen or $137.7 million in executive compensation for the year ended March 31, 2015.
It is not uncommon for tech firms to pay huge sums to their top bosses—Oracle’s founder and former CEO has been raking in hundreds of millions every year—but what is unusual is that a Japanese firm paid such a large sum. Japanese firms are considered conservative in top management remuneration.
Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn, one of a few expat bosses of a Japanese major, who pocketed under $10 million in the year ended March 31, 2014, was the highest paid executive in the country for the fourth year running.
Arora’s compensation included $121.1 million in short term benefits (cash plus others) besides $16.6 million of stock-based compensation.
It is arguably the highest sum raked in by an India-born professional ever in a single year and one of the highest globally for a public listed firm last year.
Arora’s remuneration was much higher than that of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ($84.31 million for 2013-14), PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi ($22.41 million), Adobe systems CEO Shantanu Narayen ($18 million) and former Deutsche Bank co-CEO Anshu Jain ($7.2 million for 2014).
It is not unusual for hedge and private equity fund managers to bag a lot more. Indeed, there are several hotshot India-born fund managers globally. However, such fund managers pay packets are not in the public domain.
Arora had joined SoftBank from Google last year as vice chairman besides having direct responsibility of SoftBank Internet & Media Inc (SIMI) as its CEO. He has just been elevated into a new role of COO and president of SoftBank strengthening his position as the de facto number two in the Japanese firm behind founder and CEO Masayoshi Son.
With positions in Ola Cabs, Housing.com and Snapdeal, SoftBank is among the top investors in India’s burgeoning e-commerce space. Last year, SoftBank said it will invest about $10 billion in the country’s IT and communications sector. Arora had led the nearly $1 billion investment in these handful of Indian companies last year.
Arora, who was senior vice president and chief business officer of Google, had quit the tech giant before joining SoftBank in September 2014. He is now one of the four non-Japanese in the 14-member board of SoftBank.
Prior to joining Google, Arora was senior adviser of value creation at Silver Lake Partners. Earlier, he had also served as chief marketing officer and a member of the management board of T-Mobile International AG & Co. In the past, he had also worked at Deutsche Telekom AG, Putnam Investments, Fidelity Investments, Colgate-Palmolive Co. Arora had also founded T-Motion Plc, a mobile multimedia subsidiary of T-Mobile International.
He had also served as a non-executive director of India telecom major Bharti Airtel from 2008 to 2014.
Arora holds an MS degree from Boston College and an MBA from Northeastern University in the US. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi.