CEO pay purvey - part 3: US top 4 highest-paid CEOs in 2013. ANZ chief’s $4.1m pales beside $181.6m paid to top US chief executive (whose firm has never made a profit).

ANZ New Zealand chief executive David Hisco's $4.1 million pay packet got a few Kiwis hot under the collar this week after the Business Herald's executive pay survey revealed the bank chief was New Zealand's highest paid boss last year.

Facebook lit up with debate, and about 40 ANZ staff in Wellington reportedly walked off the job on Monday shouting "fair pay" as industrial action, which began last week over a new collective employment agreement being negotiated with union members, escalated.

The First Union, which represents ANZ staff, took the opportunity to criticise Hisco's pay, its retail and finance secretary Maxine Gay saying he was paid "120 times more" than the lowest-paid bank worker.

But while Hisco's salary package is a fair whack by almost anyone's standards, it's a drop in the bucket compared with that received by the United States' highest-paid chief executive last year.

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Charif Souki, the boss of Texas-based, New York-listed natural gas firm Cheniere Energy, made US$141.9 million ($181.6 million) last year, according to a survey by remuneration information provider Equilar published in the New York Times.

That means Souki was being paid in less than four hours what Americans on an average salary took roughly a year to earn.

And it's not as if Cheniere Energy is one of the world's biggest or most profitable companies.

The firm reported revenue of US$267.2 million last year and has never posted an annual profit.

New Zealand fast-food operator Restaurant Brands posted similar full-year revenue last year ($312.8 million), with net profit of $16.1 million, and its chief executive, Russel Creedy, received a $669,999 pay packet.

Souki's 2013 compensation package included a US$133 million stock award in which the shares will vest when the company achieves specified financial targets and operational goals, according to Bloomberg.

Mario Gabelli, of Gamco Investors, was the second highest-paid American chief executive last year, with a US$85 million package, according to the Equilar research.

Oracle's Larry Ellison was in the third spot on US$78.4 million, and CBS boss Leslie Moonves was fourth on US$65.6 million.

The chief executive of aerospace components manufacturer Transdigm Group, Walter Howley, came fifth with his US$64.2 million pay packet.

The average Fortune 500 chief executive in the US makes more than US$12 million a year, close to double what the average boss in Switzerland, home of the world's second highest-paid CEOs, receives, the Washington Post reported.

Top salaries in Australia and New Zealand are modest by comparison.

The bosses of Australia's ASX 100 companies received average cash pay - excluding shares - of A$3 million last year, a survey by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors found.

The chief executives of New Zealand's largest listed firms and state-owned enterprises received average remuneration of $1.3 million in 2012, according to the Business Herald's executive pay survey.

The average pay this country's top bosses received last year will be revealed in Friday's The Business liftout.

Yesterday: NZ's top pay packet revealed: $4.1m
Tomorrow: Bosses of state-owned enterprises.