Helsinki (19.01.1998 - Juhani Artto) The CEOs of the largest Finnish companies enjoyed generous salary rises amounting to 44 per cent between 1990 and 1996. Over the same period the gross income of ordinary full-time wage earners and salaried staff grew by 21 per cent.

These figures are from a report compiled by journalists Tuomo Pietiläinen and Erja Sumanen of the leading Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and published in the edition of 4th November 1997.

The study compares the job-related incomes of CEOs in the 14 largest Finnish companies listed on the Stock Market. As job-related income the journalists included salaries, income from option loans given to managers and remuneration from directorships of other companies.

The fattest pay packet went to Jorma Ollila, CEO of the telecommunications multinational Nokia. His income in 1996 was 3.3 million Finnish marks (1 FIM = 0.19 USD). He was closely followed by Vesa Vainio, head of Finland's largest commercial bank Merita, with an annual income of 3.1 million marks. (Merita was formed in 1995 of SYP and KOP. The general director of SYP made 1.1 million marks in 1990.)

The lowest earner in the top 14 was Aatto Prihti, CEO of the leading pharmaceutical company Orion, who had to make do with only 1.4 million marks.

The leaders of the companies, which are largely owned by the State, were not put to shame by those occupying similar positions in the purely privately-owned sector. Valmet, the world leader in paper machine construction, paid 2.6 million marks to its CEO Matti Sundberg.

The biggest forest industry company UPM-Kymmene considered its number one, Juha Niemelä, to be worth 1.9 million marks. In 1996 the State-owned petrochemical complex Neste rewarded its CEO Jaakko Ihamuotila to the tune of 1.8 million marks.

This rapid growth in the earnings of top leaders follows an international trend, although the incomes of Finnish managers still lag far behind those of tycoons in the larger nations, especially the USA.