AMEC has dismissed suggestions that chief executive Sir Peter Mason is overpaid after his wages once again nudged the £1 million mark.
Even though the amount he took home last year actually fell from the £1,021,000 he picked up in 2003, Sir Peter's final remuneration packet of £949,000 was still nearly £300,000 more than the top bosses at Balfour Beatty and Carillion.
Sir Peter's basic salary of £670,000 was supplemented by nearly £280,000 in bonuses and benefits in kind.
An Amec spokesman said Sir Peter, who last week pocketed £1.3 million by selling 600,000 shares under an executive share option scheme, was paid in line with his market worth.
He said: 'The figure is set by the board.We have to pay the right amount to attract the talent to run it.'
Figures reveal that Carlos Riva - the former head of the firm's UK construction and engineering division who left last week - earned £705,000 in 2004, which represented a 65 per cent pay hike on the previous year.
Pre-tax profits at Amec in 2004 slipped by a third to £66 million on a turnover of £4.8 billion.
Former Balfour chief executive Mike Welton, who retired last year, earned £655,000 and his replacement Ian Tyler picked up £477,000. Carillion boss John McDonough was paid £645,000.