David Montgomery, the founder and chief executive of Mecom, saw his pay rise by two-thirds last year, despite the European publishing company being forced to cut hundreds of jobs as its profits fell by 28 per cent.
Mr Montgomery's remuneration for 2009 was worth £975,000, up from £579,000 the year before, it was revealed in Mecom's annual report yesterday. While his basic salary remained flat at £540,000, his bonus hit £290,000 after Mecom met its targets for earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda).
Mr Montgomery, the former boss of Mirror Group newspapers and a previous editor of The News Of The World, chose to take the bonus in shares. The report said he would "therefore receive an award over shares worth 150 per cent to his bonus entitlement... i.e. an award over shares worth £435,191". He can exercise the shares in three years.
Institutional investors backed the pay packet, which also included health and life insurance and a chauffeur-driven car. The remuneration of Mecom's chief operating officer, Keith Allen, totalled £504,000, and its financial director, Henry Davies, received £406,000.
Mecom operates in Denmark, Norway the Netherlands and Poland, with 300 newspaper titles and 200 websites. Mr Montgomery founded the business 10 years ago, serving as executive chairman until January last year, when he became chief executive. The group's Ebitda fell from €174.8m to £125.5m last year as advertising revenues slumped, although its circulation revenues remained fairly flat.
As a result, Mecom was forced to slash costs and reduce its workforce by 850. It now has 8,600 employees, but warned yesterday that there would be further moves to rationalise costs, "particularly through the further centralisation of shared services and functions".
Mr Montgomery, who was born in Northern Ireland in 1948, served as the chief executive of Mirror Group newspapers from 1992 to 1999.