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NZME boss Boggs's pay-packet eclipsed by mystery millionaire

NZME boss Boggs's pay-packet eclipsed by mystery millionaire

By Paul McBeth

March 31 (BusinessDesk) - NZME chief executive Michael Boggs was the second highest-paid employee at the radio network operator and newspaper publisher last year, with a mystery million-dollar staffer taking the top pay packet.

The Auckland-based company's highest paid employee was in a salary band of between $1.02 million and $1.03 million in calendar 2016, more than the $865,111 Boggs received in his first year in charge of the company, NZME's annual report shows. The salary bands for staffers earning more than $100,000 include fixed remuneration, Kiwisaver and medical contributions, bonuses and commissions, settlements and redundancies, however chief marketing officer Liza McNally said the company doesn't comment on individual employment terms when asked whether the top earner was still at the company.

Media companies are often criticised for paying too much for top talent, most recently when Television New Zealand's annual report raised questions as to whether chief executive Kevin Kenrick or Seven Sharp frontman Mike Hosking, who also hosts NZME's flagship NewstalkZB morning show, was the state-owned broadcaster's top earner with $1.2 million. Kenrick was later confirmed as holding the highest the salary band.

Talent showcased for shareholders in NZME's 2016 annual report include photos of New Zealand Herald investigate reporter Jared Savage, business editor at large Liam Dann and Viva managing editor Amanda Linnell, NewstalkZB's Hosking, Radio Hauraki's Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells, ZM's Carl Fletcher, Vaughan Smith and Megan Sellers, The Hits' Stacey Morrison and Paul Flynn and Flava's Sela Alo, Pua Magasiva and Tarsh Ieremia.

NZME's former chief executive Jane Hastings also left during in 2016, departing after 18 months in the job to "pursue other opportunities". She was an internal appointment having run The Radio Network before taking over the broader operation. In 2015 Hastings' total pay packet was A$1.22 million, up from A$980,000 a year earlier.

The media group paid $67 million to 426 employees on salaries of $100,000 or more, accounting for about 41 percent of the company's annual wage bill of $161.6 million. Of that senior management were paid $5.7 million in 2016, including just $52,000 of termination benefits, and up from $4.8 million a year earlier. That was in a year when the overall wage bill shrank 1.8 percent as a round of redundancies totalling $6 million in 2016 and $7.2 million the year earlier, helped reduce labour costs due to the integration of the print, radio and e-commerce units, chief financial officer Mike Moran said in the annual report. He also said greater automation in the printing process would further reduce the people costs.

A graph on the length of service of NZME staffers indicates it employs about 1,700 people, however McNally said 18 percent of the workforce are casuals meaning total staff numbers were fluid and that NZME wouldn't release that number. The company employed 1,863 full-time equivalents as at December 2015, excluding casuals and contractors, according to documents when NZME was carved out of APN News & Media as a standalone entity.

NZME's annual report said the company works hard "to ensure everyone at NZME understands and is aligned with our company's strategic goals (what needs to be achieved) and our values (how these should be achieved)" and that senior leadership was tasked with " translating our strategic goals and providing support to ensure all employees are engaged".

The company is trying to convince the Commerce Commission to approve a merger with rival Fairfax New Zealand to let a combined entity sack staff and spread their coverage, shoring up their balance sheet and putting them on a stronger footing to compete more aggressively for digital ad revenue against the likes of Google and Facebook.

NZME shares rose 3.3 percent to 94 cents, the highest since August last year.


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