Executive pay at Britain's top companies continues to soar, climbing by eight times the rate of inflation last year and taking the average remuneration package of a FTSE 100 chief executive to more than £2.5 million.
The annual executive pay survey carried out by the Guardian newspaper has revealed that director's pay rose by 16 per cent in 2004, four times faster than average earnings and eight times the rate of inflation.
The increase comes on top of rises of 13 per cent in 2003 and 23 per cent in 2002 and mean that the average FTSE CEO is now paid 113 times more than the UK average wage of £22,060.
However it is significantly lower than the 28 per cent increase recorded by the survey at the height of the dot com boom in 2000.
The average total remuneration for a CEO, including bonuses and other incentives, has risen to more than £2.5m. However basic salaries alone average only £630,000 with the highest being the £1.4m, paid to Lord Browne, CEO of BP.
The figures also show a steady increase in the number of directors receiving packages worth more than £1 million, up to 230 from 190 in 2003.
Among these for the first time are five female directors, although the Guardian points out that two made it into the £1 million-plus league only because they received substantial payoffs.
The highest-paid executive last year was Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising agency WPP, whose bonus package took his total remuneration to more than £52m ($90 million).
Jean-Pierre Garnier of GlaxoSmithKlin, James Nicol of engineering group Tomkins and David Harding of the bookmaker William Hill were the other top earners in the survey.
Collectively, FTSE 100 directors were paid more than £650m last year with Tesco's board emerging as the highest-paid for the second consecutive year.
Meanwhile, despite the huge deficits in the pension funds of many of Britain's top 100 companies, they have still contrived to stash away some £880m to pay for the pensions of their directors, with Niall FitzGerald, former chairman of Unilever, looking forward to enjoying a retirement income of £850,000 from his £17m pension pot.