Origin chief's pay hits $8.35m

The head of Australia's biggest electricity retailer has received a pay rise, taking his remuneration package nine per cent higher to above $8 million.

Origin Energy's chief executive Grant King, one of Australia's highest paid executives, received a package including base salary, bonuses and share options of nearly $8.35 million for 2011/12.

The pay hike bucks a trend of recent months of Australian executives such as BHP Billiton's Marius Kloppers and Bluescope Steel's Paul O'Malley foregoing bonuses or salary rises because of weaker earnings.

Mr King's remuneration increased by nearly $700,000 from $7.66 million in 2010-11, Origin revealed in its annual report released on Friday.

His base pay climbed nine per cent to $2.46 million and bonuses by 12 per cent to $2.35 million.

Mr King is among Australia's 10-15 highest paid executives and his pay has attracted controversy this year as electricity prices for households have sharply increased with more tipped.

Origin increased its underlying profit by 33 per cent to $893 million and net profit five-fold to $980 million in the year to June 30.

Michael Fraser, the managing director of the nation's second biggest electricity retailer AGL, received an 83 per cent boost in pay to $6.3 million.

That also raised eyebrows because it was based on an improvement in underlying profit rather than a fall in net profit associated with buying the Loy Yang A power station.

Origin reiterated guidance for this year's underlying profit to be in line with the 2012 financial year result.

It said the outlook for the coming year was more challenging than in prior years with less growth coming from new capital investments.

That was because its major focus was delivering first production from the Australia Pacific LNG project on schedule and budget, so it had reduced capital expenditure on other projects.

Domestic gas demand is forecast to triple over the next five years to 2017, the company said.

Origin shares outperformed the market, closing 16 cents, or 1.4 per cent, higher at $11.54, with AGL improving 1.3 per cent to $14.56.

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