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The chief executives of Germany's 30 biggest companies took home 5.3 million euros ($6.9 million) on average last year, a 3.0-percent rise from 2011, but still below the European average, a study showed Tuesday.
Based on the annual reports of 23 of the 30 companies in Germany's blue-chip DAX stock index, the chief executives' pay ranged from 2.1 million euros for Lufthansa chief Christian Franz to 14.5 million euros for the Volkwagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, the study by consultants Towers Watson said.
Winterkorn was therefore once again the highest paid chief executive in Germany, even if his salary was down 13 percent from the previous year due to new limits on bonuses introduced by the carmaker.
The study revealed that 10 DAX company CEOs took pay cuts of as much as 27 percent while 11 received pay hikes of as much as 32 percent.
By comparison, the companies' underlying profits, as measured by earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), rose by 14 percent on average, the study revealed.
The issue is currently a hot-button topic in Germany at the moment following a Swiss vote to curb executive pay.
The country's most powerful union IG Metall is calling for a 5.5-percent pay rise for 3.7 million workers in the electrical, engineering, automobile and metalworking sectors in the upcoming wage round, a demand dismissed by employers as excessive.
German bosses earned a lot less than their European counterparts, the study continued, with CEOs of Dow Jones Stoxx 50 Europe companies taking home an average 7.5 million euros last year, the study showed.