CEO pay may be stalled, but the perks aren't

Despite smaller raises for many top executives, lavish extras like corporate jets are on the rise.

By Aimee Picchi Apr 8, 2013 12:33PM

Image: CEO © Roy McMahon, CorbisCall it payment by Gulfstream. 

While the median pay of the top 100 highest-paid American chief executives barely budged last year, spending on their overall "perks packages" saw a jump of almost 19%, according to The New York Times, citing a study from executive compensation data firm Equilar.

What's in a perks package? It contains goodies like travel via a $65 million Gulfstream jet, as well as benefits such as pensions and life insurance policies. 

For the executives examined by The Times, which looked at the CEOs of companies with revenue of more than $5 billion, the typical 2012 perks package was worth $320,635.  

But don't shed any tears for the CEOs' stalled take-home: While total pay among the 100 executive rose only 2.8%, the median pay was a whopping $14 million. 

One recent example of a top executive who saw his pay marked down, yet was granted generous perks, is J.C. Penney (JCP) Chief Executive Ron Johnson. 

His total compensation took a huge hit -- a reduction of more than $50 million, as reported by MSN moneyNOW on Wednesday -- yet he was awarded $344,000 for personal use of the company's private jet. 

Cash compensation is also seeing a return in popularity, with overall cash payments rising 19.7% to $5.7 million, The Times notes. 

So, who received the most generous pay packages last year? Many of the most lavishly rewarded CEOs head companies with well known brand names, such as Starbucks (SBUX) and Walt Disney (DIS), according to the report. All of the executives in the top 10 each earned more than $25 million. 

The highest paid leader is Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison, who earned a total pay package of $96.2 million last year (yes, you're reading that number correctly).

Almost all of the compensation was in stock, and it represented $20 million more than his 2011 earnings. It also came as Oracle's stock plunged 22% in its fiscal 2012, The Times notes. 

Ellison's perks included $1.5 million for a security retinue. 

"He doesn’t care what shareholders think,” compensation consultant Alan Johnson told the newspaper. "He’s one of the richest guys in the world, and he has the company pay for his bodyguards. I don’t think he's going to change."

While travel on private jet was one of the more popular perks, some CEOs gained more unusual compensation. Wynn Resorts (WYNN) CEO Steve Wynn racked up costs of $451,574 last year for a villa in Las Vegas, for example.

But Wynn wasn't shy when it came to private travel, either. He booked almost $1.2 million in personal trips on the company's jet, according to a regulatory filing. And in December, The Times notes, Wynn Resorts took delivery of a $65 million Gulfstream, the better to carry its CEO between New York -- where he has a $70 million penthouse -- and Las Vegas. 

More on moneyNOW

Apr 8, 2013 3:10PM
I am at the wrong end of the economic food chain.  The last company perk I got was a cut in pay with a reduction in benefits, but the joy of working longer hours. 
Apr 8, 2013 3:40PM

This is what people should be outraged about instead of some poor guy who needs

food stamps to survive.

Apr 8, 2013 4:50PM
But God forbid any workers ask for a miserly 3% pay hike.  All I got was 10% pay cut and my perk is I get to keep my job.
Apr 8, 2013 3:39PM
Only in America where a company like JC Penney which has been in decline for years can the CEO take a 50 million dollar cut and still be making millions. Imagine what he'd be making if they were profitable? Then they'd praise his brilliance as the sole reason for their success.
Apr 8, 2013 3:18PM
Hmm.....wonder why MNSBC never compares the salaries of CEO's who run billion dollar companies to the Hollywood elititsts and DC lawyers who make eight figure salaries?  It wouldn't be media bias, would it (chuckle, chuckle).......
Apr 8, 2013 3:27PM

I guess the increase in perks is intended to be some kind of safety net for those poor CEO's who got pay cuts. In our case, our poor poor CEO of the local Fortune 500 company in town (who shall go nameless but whose stock market initials are GLW) has to somehow get by on 16million a year!! Now come on...what is this world coming to when a swell guy like him has to get by on 16MM a year? That is hard work; all that sitting around in a suit looking pretty all day long, geez!!!

Apr 8, 2013 4:42PM
This is sad a 2.8% raise is hard to find anymore for normal workers, especially when a 2.8% raise = $1million+, but wait that's not all the expense account is bumped 19%. Just stupid
Apr 8, 2013 3:21PM

Whoever you wrote this comment "SOCIALIST B.S. GOING STRONG.................MENTAL " is a fool do not know anything about even the company. You should know all these CEO run  publicly traded company, it is not their paternal property, it is stock holder's property. They are crooked thief. These SOB CEO’s should go to hell in one day. This great country is ruined because of these fools greedy CEOs, they are not even American, they do not have any national feelings, nothing! In other word they are not even human! Period.

Apr 9, 2013 2:36AM
To think they gave RJ 150M to get rid of him makes me sick to my stomach.  I hope JCP comes back and becomes even bigger and better than it has ever been...!!!
Apr 8, 2013 4:01PM
All of these ****s need to be gutted like fish!
Apr 8, 2013 4:13PM

Two weeks ago, MSNBC had an article here saying CEO pay was up 8%.  Which do I believe?

Apr 10, 2013 2:42PM
No one, I repeat, no one is worth that kind of money, period.
Apr 8, 2013 7:57PM

They do pay taxes on the perks or do they??  Boa had aircraft, yachts, ball game suites, etc

and never paid taxes for personal use.  All to benefit shareholder value! sure.

Apr 10, 2013 11:36AM
Poor babies!  I don't see how they live on so little!
Apr 8, 2013 8:02PM
The SEC regulates the potential for insider trading within companies to protect the trading public that may be out of the loop. Why are stock holders not protected from runaway CEO salaries, bonus, and perks?  CEOs and board members are company employees that offer no service to the company commensurate with their rewards.  The people serve on each other's  boards and approve outrageous compensation packages without regard for the stockholders.  With millions of shares issued and large blocks controlled by the board, no individual or entity can affect  any change. Who is protecting the stockholders stake in the company?
Apr 8, 2013 6:25PM
It was like Grasso with the NYSE back in 2002. The NYSE was ran as a non profit and the board awarded him 188 million in compensation despite the fact they only made 28.1 million profit. All the people serving on the board were compensated and served at Grasso's pleasure. Grasso's justification for such outlandish pay was the value of the business he brought in was more. That might be true for gross revenue but clearly they couldn't pay 6 1/2 times profit to one man. He was fired and sued but suit was dismissed because it was converted to a for profit company.
Apr 11, 2013 6:07PM

all ceo pay should be capped and linked to the average wage and numbers of employees

that way the ceo would want to hire and pay employees a good wage

if there company's average waged is at minimum waged so are ceo checks

let the accounts decide ceo wage  by using a power of 1-5

such as a company has 1 to 5 workers boss gets 2x average wage

6 to 25 boss gets 3x average wage 26 to 125 boss gets 4x average wage and so on

Apr 10, 2013 11:29AM
Millions upon millions in perks and bonuses for CEOs and yet the average worker is begrudged a measly $9.00 minimum wage.  How much more unjust can our economic system be?
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