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BHP Billiton cuts bonuses, CEO forgoes $1.5 million in shares

BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie prepares to discuss the company's annual results at a meeting in Sydney August 20, 2013. REUTE
BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie prepares to discuss the company's annual results at a meeting in Sydney August 20, 2013. REUTE

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - BHP Billiton Ltd has cut bonus payouts to its top executives, as total returns to shareholders fell over five years, even though the top global miner beat its target for outperforming its peers over that period.

New Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie, who was first poached from rival Rio Tinto in 2008, also gave up shares worth 941,000 pounds ($1.47 million) at Thursday's close that were due to him from his sign-on bonus.

In total, Mackenzie was awarded shares worth 4.6 million pounds, after the company decided to pay out only 65 percent of long-term share bonuses. That left him 3.9 million pounds short of the total he could have earned.

BHP cut bonus payouts largely because total returns to shareholders (TSR) were negative rather than positive over the five years to June 2013, although at negative 9.4 percent, BHP's return looked far better than the negative 44 percent return suffered by its peers.

That was above the company's target to outperform peers by at least 31 percent.

"While the Committee recognized that the TSR performance was delivered in a difficult business environment, it also felt that more closely aligning the experience of shareholders and executives was important," the company said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.

It also took into account factors such as fatality trends and capital project performance.

Former CEO Marius Kloppers was awarded shares worth A$11.5 million ($10.4 million) at Thursday's close, which was A$6.2 million short of what he could have earned. ($1 = 0.6421 British pounds) ($1 = 1.1083 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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