Components of compensation to Executive Committee

All senior positions in ABB have been evaluated using a consistent methodology developed by the Hay Group, whose job evaluation system is used by more than 10,000 companies around the world. The Hay methodology goes beyond job titles and company size in assessing positions. It considers the know-how required to do the job, the problem solving complexities involved, as well as the accountability for results and the freedom to act to achieve results. This approach provides a meaningful, transparent and consistent basis for comparing remuneration levels at ABB with those of equivalent jobs at other companies that have been evaluated using the same criteria. The Board of Directors primarily uses Hay’s data from the European market to set EC compensation, which is around or slightly above the median values for the market.

In addition to being aligned with the market in this way, the compensation of EC members is designed to support three principles:

  • performance against specific and measurable Group targets;
  • shareholder value, measured as the performance of ABB’s shares against those of the company’s peers;
  • retention of executives and their expertise.

The compensation of EC members currently consists of the following elements which, taken together, reflect these principles: a base salary and benefits, a short-term variable component dependent on Group performance targets, and a long-term variable component designed to reward the creation of shareholder value and an executive’s commitment to the company. These are described in detail in the remainder of this section.

The base salary and benefits are fixed elements of the annual compensation packages, while the other components are variable. In 2011, fixed compensation represented 30 percent of the CEO’s remuneration and approximately 35 percent for the other EC members. The ratio of fixed to variable components in any given year will depend on the performance of the individuals and of the company against predefined Group performance targets.

The main components of executive compensation in 2011 are summarized in the following chart and explained in more detail below:


Base salary


Paid monthly

Competitive in respect to labor markets

Annual revisions, if any, partly based on performance

Short-term variable compensation


Conditional annual payment

Payout depends on performance in previous year against predefined Group targets

Long-term variable compensation
(Long-Term Incentive Plan)

Cash and shares

Performance component:

Conditional grant made annually

Payout is in cash and depends on performance of ABB shares against those of peers over a three-year period

Retention component:

Conditional grant made annually

Payout is in cash (30%) and shares (70%) and requires the executive to remain at ABB for full three-year period

(Executives can elect to receive 100% in shares)

In addition, members of the EC are required to build up a holding of ABB shares that is equivalent to a multiple of their base salary, to ensure that their interests are aligned with those of shareholders. Since 2010, the requirement has been five times base salary for the CEO and four times base salary for the other members of the EC. New members of the EC should aim to reach these multiples within four years of their appointment. These required shareholding amounts are reviewed annually, based on salary and share price developments.

Annual base salary

The base salary for members of the EC is set with reference to positions with equivalent responsibilities outside ABB as determined using the Hay methodology described above. It is reviewed annually principally on the basis of Hay’s annual Top Executive Compensation in Europe survey. In addition, the executive’s performance during the preceding year against individual targets is taken into account when considering increases. Under its mandate with ABB, Hay also conducts job evaluations.


Members of the EC receive pension benefits, payable into the Swiss ABB Pension Fund and ABB Supplementary Insurance Plan (the regulations are available at Veli-Matti Reinikkala was insured under comparable plans in the US until his relocation to Zurich in July 2011. The current level of pension benefits was set in 2006 on the basis of results from a survey of pension conditions for Swiss-based executives at Adecco, Ciba, Dow, Nestlé, Novartis, Roche, Serono, Syngenta and Sulzer that ABB commissioned from Towers Watson, a consultant. The benchmarking exercise was repeated in 2010 and showed that ABB’s pension benefits for executives are above the median for this group. Towers Watson also provides actuarial services to ABB, and pension advisory services in connection with mergers and acquisitions transactions.

EC members also receive social security contributions and other benefits, as outlined in the compensation table in the “Executive Committee compensation in 2011” section of this remuneration report. The Board has decided to provide tax equalization for EC members resident outside Switzerland to the extent that they are not able to claim a tax credit in their country of residence for income taxes they have paid in Switzerland.

Short-term variable compensation

Payment of the short-term variable component is conditional on the fulfillment of predefined annual targets that are specific, quantifiable and challenging. In any given year, this element of an EC member’s compensation therefore reflects the company’s performance against targets for the preceding year.

In 2011, the targets were Group-wide objectives that were aligned with financial measures communicated to shareholders: orders received; revenues; operational earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (see definitions in the "Investor information" section); operating cash flow1; Net Promoter Score (NPS) detractor follow-up2; and cost savings. The first two measures had a weighting of 12.5 percent each, the next two each accounted for 25 percent, the NPS measure was rated 10 percent, and cost savings accounted for the remaining 15 percent.

The payment for fully achieving the targets is equivalent to 150 percent of the base salary for the CEO and 100 percent of the base salary for other members of the EC. Underachieving the targets results in a lower payout, or none at all if performance is below a certain threshold. The Board has the discretion to approve a higher payout if the targets are exceeded. For 2011, the Board exercised its discretion and awarded a 12 percent higher payout, reflecting the company’s performance against the targets.

(1) Operating cash flow is defined as net cash provided by operating activities, reversing the impact of interest and taxes.

(2) NPS is a metric based on dividing customers into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. This is achieved by asking customers in a one-question survey whether they would recommend ABB to a colleague. In 2011, ABB had a target to determine and follow-up on every detractor’s complaint.

Long-term variable compensation

An important principle of executive compensation at ABB is that it should encourage the creation of value for the company’s shareholders and enable EC members to participate in the company’s success. Value creation is measured in terms of total shareholder return (TSR), which is the percentage change in the value of the ABB share plus dividends over a three-year period.

The company’s Long-Term Incentive Plan (LTIP) is the principal mechanism through which members of the EC and certain other executives are encouraged to create value for shareholders. Awarded annually, LTIPs comprise a performance component and a retention component whose proportions in relation to the base salary are explained below.

Performance component

The first element is designed to reward participants for achieving a TSR that is superior to that of a group of reference companies in related businesses. The peer group is selected by the GNCC on recommendations from an independent third party (a global investment bank), and is reviewed annually. As of December 31, 2011, the group consisted of Alfa Laval, Alstom, Aspen, Atlas Copco, Cooper, Emerson, GE, Honeywell, Invensys, Legrand, MAN, Rockwell, Sandvik, Schneider, SKF, Siemens, Smiths Group, Yaskawa and Yokogawa.

Under each three-year plan, members of the EC are conditionally granted a number of shares whose value at the launch of the plan is equal to a certain percentage of their base salary. In 2011, the percentages were 67 percent for the CEO, 50 percent for the CFO, and 42 percent for the other members of the EC.

The award will be made after three years if ABB’s total shareholder return meets certain criteria. For example, no payout will be made if ABB’s performance is weaker than half of its peers. The payout is 33 percent if ABB’s performance over the evaluation period is positive and equal to the median of the peer group, and rises on a proportional scale to 100 percent if ABB’s performance is positive and exceeds three-quarters of its peers.

If ABB’s performance is negative but better than half of its peers, the number of shares awarded under the Long-Term Incentive Plan launched in 2011 will be reduced.

In addition, there is no payout if ABB is unprofitable in the calendar year preceding the end of a three-year LTIP. The measure of profitability used for this purpose is operating net income, which is ABB’s net income adjusted for the financial impact of items considered by the Board to be exceptional (such as divestments, acquisitions, etc.).

The assessment of ABB’s performance against its peers for each three-year period is carried out by an independent third party. As of the 2010 LTIP, the payout will be made in cash.

Retention component

The second component of the Long-Term Incentive Plan is designed to retain executives at ABB and forms a larger part of the plans launched in 2011 and 2010 than of those launched in previous years.

Starting with the 2010 LTIP, members of the EC have been conditionally granted shares which, at the start of each three-year plan, are equal to a reference percentage of their base salary, which the Board may adjust up or down depending on an executive’s performance against personal targets for the previous calendar year. In 2011, the reference percentages were 100 percent for the CEO, 75 percent for the CFO and 65 percent for the other members of the Executive Committee.

The shares are awarded after three years to executives who are still working for the company. Executives receive 30 percent of the payout in cash and the remainder in shares, unless they elect to receive 100 percent of the award in shares. Under the terms and conditions of the plan, executives forfeit the award if they leave ABB voluntarily, while those who retire or are asked to leave the company are awarded shares on a pro rata basis.

Plans launched prior to 2010 include a co-investment component under which each participant, at the start of the three-year cycle, could set aside shares from their personal holding equivalent in value to 33 percent of the short-term variable compensation received that year. If the shares are held for the entire three-year period, ABB will award the participant the same number of shares.

Severance provisions

Employment contracts for EC members contain notice periods of up to 12 months, during which they are entitled to compensation comprising their base salary, benefits and short-term variable compensation. In addition, if the company terminates the employment of a member of the EC and that member does not find alternative employment within the notice period that pays at least 70 percent of the member’s compensation as defined in this section, then the company will continue to pay compensation for up to 12 additional months.

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