CEO of Chinese phone company says he’ll give £750m bonus to charity

The billionaire founder of the Chinese smartphone firm Xiaomi has been handed bonuses worth £750m, but has pledged to hand the windfall to charity.

Xiaomi, which recently began selling phones in the UK, gave its founder-chair Lei Jun 639.6m shares despite a disappointing float on the Hong Kong market last July.

Despite a slide in its share price, the company said it had given its chairman a bonus worth £739m “to reward Lei Jun for his contribution to the company” in 2018.

He was also awarded a much smaller package of share options in Xiaomi Finance, which lends to Xiaomi consumers, which the company said was worth £11.7m.

The combined payouts mean Lei was given a sum approaching the smartphone company’s entire net profit for 2018, which was 8.6bn yuan (£980m). Xiaomi said: “To the knowledge of the company, upon receipt of the relevant shares, Lei Jun promised to donate all the relevant shares after deducting any tax payable for charitable purposes.”

The vast payout is thought to be one of the largest ever payments made to a company executive.

Denise Coates, the multibillionaire founder and boss of the gambling firm Bet365, paid herself £265m for the year to March 2018, in a record-breaking pay deal for the chief executive of a British company that was branded “obscene” by critics of high pay.

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, was paid $102m in 2017 after collecting a share bonus linked to the iPhone maker’s stock market performance.

But all these payouts could be dwarfed by an incentive scheme on offer to Tesla’s owner-founder

Elon Musk would become the richest man in the world if an extraordinarily ambitious new incentive scheme pays out. The 46-year-old entrepreneur, who is already a multi-billionaire, has agreed to work unpaid for the next 10 years – after which he would collect a $55.8bn (£40bn) bonus if he builds the 14-year-old business into a $650bn company within a decade.