Telstra's key men ahead of the pack

One of the reasons corporate boards regularly trot out when quizzed as to why their executives' pay packets are bigger than Texas is that they have to keep up with international competition for talent.

One of the reasons corporate boards regularly trot out when quizzed as to why their executives' pay packets are bigger than Texas is that they have to keep up with international competition for talent.

On that basis, Telstra chief executive David Thodey should brace himself for a pay cut.

Yes, a cut. Singtel, which in addition to owning Optus runs telco services all over Asia, revealed its exec pay on Wednesday and it turns out big boss Chua Sock Koong is getting about $1.2 million a year less than the Thodemeister.

She got $6.49 million for the year to the end of March. The most recent available figure for Thodey is the $7.69 million in 2011-12.

And the Singaporean austerity carries on down through the ranks. Outgoing head of Optus Paul O'Sullivan got $2.696 million, while his nearest equivalent over at Telstra, Gordon Ballantyne, got $2.981 million.

Telstra reckons its executive pay policy is designed to "provide market competitive remuneration". On that basis, surely Thodey and Ballantyne will be looking glum when Telstra unveils its results in August.

Medical marvels

This week, CBD has been talking about medical misadventures of '80s-era adman turned motivational speaker Siimon Reynolds and business partner Brian Sher.

Tuesday brought the tale of the time their business, Redwood Anti-Ageing, sued a pharmacist for allegedly breaking a deal - only to have the court throw out most of their claim because the pact was illegal. And on Wednesday, CBD recounted the time Sher and his girlfriend were locked out of their US menopause medicine business by investors including former sitcom star Suzanne Somers.

But the US experience wasn't the only menopause venture involving Sher to run into strife.

Through Redwood Anti-Ageing, Sher and Reynolds had shares in a thing called the Menopause Institute of Australia, run by doctor Gary Aaron.

The ACCC launched legal action against the institute in 2006, alleging more than 30 claims it made while spruiking its natural hormone replacement therapy program were misleading or deceptive, including that the treatment reduced the risk of cancer and had no side effects.

As he was general manager, Aaron was also named in the lawsuit. Sher, Reynolds and Redwood were not.

However, in US court documents Sher filed while stoushing over the US menopause business, he is described as "an entrepreneur who founded the Menopause Institute of Australia in 2003 and served as its chief executive officer". How confusing.

In December 2006, the Menopause Institute settled with the ACCC, admitting to misleading and deceiving its customers.

The legal ordeal appears to have been a learning experience for Aaron, who was overseas when CBD called on Wednesday. "In any practice, in any business, you need to behave ethically," he told Fairfax Media in 2011. "If you are doing something unethical, you must change your ways or pay the price. It was a very good lesson for us."

CBD has asked Sher and Reynolds to explain their involvement. Sher has yet to respond, while Reynolds directed inquiries to his lawyer, Graham Hryce.

Somes success

"Not guilty, y'all got to feel me," rapper Jay-Z boasted on his hit single Izzo (H.O.V.A.).

It's a track Perth auditor Kevin Somes would be forgiven for blasting at obnoxious volume following his victory against the corporate plod, ASIC, last week.

Somes faced 18 charges relating to breaches of auditor independence at Sandfire Resources, but a Perth magistrate threw out the lot.

As Jay-Z said: "Cops want to knock me, DA want to box me in, but somehow I beat them charges like Rocky."

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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