2007 Sale Puts Five Alltel Execs Atop Pay List

by John Henry  on Monday, Jul. 28, 2008 12:00 am  

Rounding out the Top 10 is Tyson Foods CEO Richard Bond with total compensation of $11.1 million. Most of that was $6 million in stock options awards.

Tyson - and all other chicken, beef and pork producers - has been suffering in the current economy. High grain and fuel prices have cut heavily into profits, but Tyson's stock still has managed to rise some 27 percent over its 52-week low.

Arkansas Business lists the compensation of 109 executives this year, ranging from Ford's $146.4 million down to Jim Precht, a senior vice president withAdvance Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. at Springdale, who took home $147,800.

5 Women on List

Of the 109 public company execs on the list, only five are women. In addition to Alltel's Gasaway, they are Drue Corbusier (27th on the list), EVP at Dillard's, who earned $1.99 million;Sherri Billings (59th), CFO of First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas, $640,261; Judy McReynolds (60th), SVP, CFO and treasurer of Arkansas Best, $640,021; and Susan Bradley (65th), SVP at Windstream Corp., $624,955.

Nationally, the CEO of a Standard & Poor's 500 company received, on average, $14.2 million in total compensation last year. That's according to The Corporate Library, a corporate governance research firm. The median compensation package received was $8.8 million.

That's up over the previous year, even though many of the big public companies are posting losses during the economic decline. That increase in executive pay upsets critics, who consider the pay raises unjustified, particularly in light of market losses. Such pay level abuse, as it's called, undermines shareholder value and market confidence, critics say.

"External factors, not leadership errors, are creating the trouble for companies, so companies are reluctant to punish CEOs for things that are largely out of their control," said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. "We may see CEO turnover decline as the economy worsens, due to the fact that many companies may try to keep the highest tier of leadership intact through the downturn. Any drastic changes at the highest levels of an organization are unlikely to reverse a company's fortunes in this economy and the tumult may actually make the situation worse."

National CEO Pay Grows

Still, some of the shareholder angst over CEO pay is understandable. Last month, The Associated Press reported that average CEO compensation grew by 3.5 percent last year despite slowing economic growth, falling profits and mass layoffs.

Generally, a CEO's pay declines during tough economic times. Dillard's provides an example. The department store chain has been struggling, and bonuses or performance pay that the top execs had received in the past were eliminated in 2007.

CEO William Dillard II made $2.7 million last year, compared with $5.1 million in 2006, when he received a bonus of $2.5 million. Dillard's President Alex Dillard's pay was cut by more than half to $2.2 million from $4.9 million in 2006. Corbusier and Mike Dillard, another EVP, both earned less last year than in 2006.

The AP report said half of the 10 best-paid CEOs - who collectively hauled in half a billion dollars last year - presided over companies whose profits shrank "dramatically."

The struggling economy has hit the nation's big financial investment firms particularly hard. Yet John Thain, the CEO of Merrill Lynch, was No. 1 in CEO pay last year (unless one includes Ford's windfall). He received $83 million in compensation for the year, despite presiding over a company that has recorded more than $30 billion in write-downs since the third quarter of last year. Earlier this month, it posted a $4.9 billion loss for its second quarter.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.