SoftBank president Nikesh Arora gets $73 million pay package

Nikesh Arora, the India-born president of SoftBank Group Corp, overcame investor criticism to secure an 8.04 billion yen ($73 million) pay package for the company's latest fiscal year, remaining one of top paid executives in the world for the second year in a row.

Arora's pay package for Arora is in the same range as those for Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Walt Disney's Bob Iger, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's founder and CEO, received compensation totaling 130 million yen ($1.2 million).

Arora who joined SoftBank from Google Inc in 2014, was paid 16.6 billion yen in the previous fiscal year, when he started working at SoftBank, setting a record for compensation in Japan.

SoftBank said at the time that the pay package included a signing bonus. Arora held unvested Google stock options and other securities worth more than $76 million at the end of 2013, according to the last proxy statement before his departure.

Arora's pay package is a lot of money by Japanese standards and this could help attract overseas talent to Japan, say analysts.

Cancer-research company NantKwest Inc's Patrick Soon-Shiong is currently the highest-paid CEO, with compensation valued at $329.7 million. Blackstone group president Hamilton Evans James too had a bigger pay package than Arora. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs's CEO, was paid $33.1 million, according to Bloomberg's executive-pay analysis.

Arora's compensation includes 1.56 billion yen paid by other SoftBank units, according to a proxy issued by the mobile and internet company on Thursday. SoftBank's Ken Miyauchi, who runs the domestic business, was awarded 317 million yen.

Son has said that Arora is the most likely candidate to succeed him. Arora, who is responsible for global operations, plans to invest about $3 billion each year as SoftBank seeks to invest in startups that can become the next Alibaba Group Holding, the Chinese e-commerce company that pulled off the world's largest initial public offering in 2014.

Arora has led SoftBank's investments in India's e-commerce provider Snapdeal.com, ride-hailing service Ola Cabs, real-estate website Housing.com and hotel-booking app Oyo Rooms. In October, SoftBank led a $1 billion fundraising round for US-based online lender Social Finance Inc.

Arora has also made an enormous personal bet on the future of SoftBank. Last August, he said he would buy 60 billion yen of the company's shares, worth $483 million at the time. That was the largest insider purchase by an executive in Japan for at least 12 years.

SoftBank's stock is down about 20 per cent since Arora joined the company. The shares fell 3.7 per cent to 5,975 yen in Tokyo trading.

Arora, meanwhile, is being targeted by a group of investors over a range of issues, including alleged conflict of interest, They are calling on SoftBank's board to investigate and possibly dismiss him, for a range of issues, including alleged conflicts of interest. The group also cited Arora's compensation as an area of concern, according to a letter to the board dated 20 January.

Son, however, said he has "complete trust in Nikesh and one thousand percent confidence in him."

He ''remains a highly valued leader with proven investment abilities and we are confident he will continue to make great contributions at SoftBank in the years ahead.'' 

Arora, 48, also denied allegations against him as baseless.

''I take my fiduciary responsibilities seriously and have acted appropriately and in the best interest of shareholders throughout my tenure at SoftBank and Sprint, just as I have conducted myself throughout my professional life. I am completely confident the allegations in the letter are baseless,'' he had said in a statement.