* Surveys find Sao Paulo tops global executive pay
* Skill shortage, currency rise boosting pay levels
* Results defied executives’ own expectations
By Stuart Grudgings
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Top company bosses in Brazil are earning higher salaries than their developed-world counterparts in New York and London as the Latin American country’s economy and currency surge ahead.
A chief executive in Brazil’s financial capital Sao Paulo can on average expect to pocket $620,000 a year excluding bonuses, a survey by Brazilian firm Dasein Executive Search found. That was comfortably ahead of the $574,000 average salary of top bosses in New York and $550,000 in London, the next two top-ranking cities for executive pay.
The results partly reflect a shortage of executive talent in Brazil as the education system has failed to keep pace with the booming economy.
The dollar value of salaries has also been pushed higher by Brazil’s supercharged currency, which has risen 11 percent against the greenback since May and been described by bank Goldman Sachs as the most overvalued in the world.
As a rare bright sport in the global economy, Brazil has been the destination of choice for global investors looking to park funds and escape paltry returns in the developed world.
Latin America’s largest economy is on course to grow 7.5 percent this year, driven by vibrant consumer demand and record high employment that has led to skill shortages in some industries. Inflation is a growing worry for policy makers, who nonetheless deny that Brazil is showing signs of an asset bubble.
The Dasein survey questioned 80 executives in multinational firms in the industrial sector, including car, steel and mining firms, with between 1,000 and 15,000 employees.
A parallel survey carried out by the New York-based Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), of which Dasein is a member, also put Sao Paulo ahead of New York, London and Hong Kong.
The AESC survey found that the results were the exact opposite of what the executives themselves expected — 82 percent of the 42 people surveyed believed that Sao Paulo would come last.
David Braga, business manager at Dasein, said Brazil’s humming economy and the prospect of higher salaries were drawing back to Brazil executives who had left in search of higher salaries as well as attracting a growing number of foreigners.
“We’re seeing a strong trend of repatriation. Lots of Brazilians who left to work in other countries are now trying to come back because they can get salaries as high as anywhere else,” he said.
With mergers and acquisitions in Brazil reaching record volumes for two straight years, and bond and stock issuance surging, banks in the country are hiring at a breakneck pace to keep up with demand, driving salaries higher.
Brokerages and banks such as Barclays Capital (BARC.L), Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) have hired more research analysts, investment bankers and traders, increasing competition for top talent in the country.
A report by AESC earlier this year found that there was an “acute shortage” of executive leadership talent in Brazil, partly due to the country’s notoriously poor school system.
“The neglect of the public educational system and flight of the best talent to opportunities abroad over the last 30 years has left Brazilian organizations with a leadership pool insufficient to meet today’s requirements,” it said. (Additional reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)