An analysis for the Journal by the Hay Group management consultancy found the median value of salaries, bonuses, long-term incentives, and grants of stock and stock options for the chief executives of 200 major U.S. companies declined 0.9% to $6.95 million. In 2008, pay fell 3.4%.
The news report said this year’s overall decline reflected the recession, government controls, and continued public outcry over big pay packages. Long-term incentive awards, mostly stock and stock options, were hardest hit, falling 4.6% to a median $5 million. Salaries and bonuses rose 3.2% to $2.64 million.
As the recession deepened in late 2008, “many boards lowered targets for 2009—and so some CEOs collected bonuses even as profits declined,” said Irv Becker, head of Hay’s U.S. executive-compensation practice, in the news report.
The analysis also showed that highly paid CEOs generally run companies that deliver better-than-average shareholder returns.
Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric Co., declined a bonus for the second straight year, pushing his total pay lower by 4.7% to $5.1 million. GE’s stock fell 6.6% last year. In contrast, Ray R. Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum Corp., collected $52.2 million – making him the highest paid executive surveyed. The company’s stock rose 36% last year.However, Charles Ergen, CEO and founder of Dish Network Corp., earned the distinction of having the harshest drop in pay – he drew a $623,100 salary that was 92.5% lower than his 2008 total compensation – even though the company’s stock doubled.