Co-operative Group chief executive Euan Sutherland has reportedly offered to quit, saying the business is "ungovernable".
Mr Sutherland, who took over at the food-to-funerals company last May, is said to have written a resignation letter to the board in a "back-me-or-sack-me" move.
Members of the board are trying to persuade him to stay, according to the BBC.
The leaking of details about his bumper pay deal - which he felt was an attempt to destabilise him and prevent him pushing through reforms - was reported to be a factor in his decision last night.
A spokeswoman for the group could not immediately be contacted for confirmation of the report.
It emerged at the weekend that Mr Sutherland was to receive a deal worth £3.6 million despite the Co-op facing a £2 billion loss after the biggest crisis in its history.
The group is facing large-scale job cuts after a disastrous year in which its banking arm needed to be rescued when a £1.5 billion hole was discovered in its balance sheet.
It is now facing an overhaul as well as a series of investigations into what went wrong, as well as continuing questions over the appointment of disgraced bank chairman Paul Flowers despite a lack of knowledge of the sector.
Mr Flowers was later exposed in a newspaper drugs sting.
Labour and Co-operative Party MP Meg Hillier criticised Mr Sutherland's actions, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Obviously he has got a timetable and things have to be done, but he is jumping the gun and completely ignoring the mutual ethos of the Co-operative Group."
She added: "Strong leadership in a mutual model doesn't mean throwing a fit and throwing your toys out of the pram when something like your salary is leaked.
"This is a very big ... PLC-style salary in a co-operative group. No doubt he believes he is worth that, but then he shouldn't be so upset that it has been leaked. If he thinks he is worth it he should explain it or if he is embarrassed it has leaked he shouldn't take it."