21 CEOs Who Floated Away On Golden Parachutes Worth More Than $100 Million

Being the CEO of a multibillion-dollar global corporation is tough work. Or at least it had better be, considering the amount of money some of these folks were paid just to quit.

GMI Ratings recently released a detailed report — click here to read the PDF — on this blackjack of executives, many of them from businesses that are perennial Worst Company In America contenders, who cashed out with ridiculously large parting gifts.

But since you probably just want to see the list so you know how much to envy/hate/worship/aspire to become these erstwhile titans of industry, so here goes, in order from über-huge parachute to merely gaudy:

John F. Welch Jr.; General Electric (1981-2001) $417,361,902

Lee R. Raymond; Exxon Mobil Corp. (1993-2005) $320,599,861

William D. McGuire; UnitedHealth Group (1991-2006) $285,996,009

Edward E. Whitacre Jr.; AT&T (1990-2007) $230,048,463

Robert L. Nardelli; Home Depot Inc. (2000-2007) $223,290,123

John A. Kanas; North Fork Bank (1977-2006) $214,300,000

Fred Hassan; Merck & Co., Inc./Schering-Plough (2003-2009) $189,352,324

Louis V. Gerstner Jr.; IBM (1993-2002) $189,005,929

Hank A. McKinnell Jr.; Pfizer Inc. (2001-2006) $188,329,553

Thomas M. Ryan; CVS Caremark Corp. (1998-2011) $185,415,435

James M. Kilts; Gillette Co. (2001-2005) $164,532,192

Robert J. Ulrich; Target Corp. (1994-2008) $164,162,612

E. Stanley O’Neal; Merrill Lynch & Co. (2002-2007) $161,500,000

Jerry A. Grundhofer; U.S. Bancorp (2001-2006) $159,064,090

Joel F. Gemunder; Omnicare, Inc. (2001-2010) $146,001,476

Wallace D. Malone Jr.; Wachovia/South Trust (1981-2004) $125,292,818

George A. L. David; United Technologies Corp. (1994-2008) $122,631,309

Margaret C. Whitman; eBay Inc. (1998-2008) $120,427,360

Leonard Schaeffer; WellPoint Health (1992-2004) $119,041,000

Bob R. Simpson; XTO Energy Inc. (1986-2008) $103,485,972

Thomas E. Freston; Viacom (2006) $100,839,772

Golden Parachutes: 21 CEOs Landed $100M Plus [ABC News]

Comments

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  1. HomerSimpson says:

    Hey, these are teh jub creators, folks! No reason to be angry!

    • Scrutinizer says:

      I was a young engineer working for UTC the year that George David took over. My division always made its profit goals but in the later part of the year. George and his predecessor – Bobby Danny – wanted to tell the share holders in the spring that all the divisions had a first quarter profit. To do this they laid off 80 engineers to save the $1 million dollars to create a paper profit. As reward for this paper profit he was given a $1 million dollar bonus.

    • oops says:

      Um, are these the teh jobs that all go over seas?

    • bluline says:

      I don’t know about the other guys, but Jack Welch of General Electric is one of the most renowned businessmen in history. During his tenure as CEO, he grew GE’s annual revenues from $26.8 billion to nearly $130 billion. When he left GE, the company had gone from a market value of $14 billion to one of more than $410 billion, making it the most valuable and largest company in the world at the time. Not too shabby. Welch was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 1999.

  2. Coffee says:

    I was going to say that 21 CEOs at $100 million is only about $5 million per CEO, which is a lot, but not astronomically bad. Then I clicked on the article and saw that it wasn’t $100 million total. It was $100 million each. Then I got angry and cut myself.

  3. John says:

    … and worth every penny!

  4. u1itn0w2day says:

    It’s the boards of directors that approve this crap. Actually it’s not the boards of directors it’s the board of their smoke filled backroom pals with a list of favors.

    • ARP says:

      CEO’s serve on each others’ board of directors, so they approve each others’ pay. It’s a circle jerk.

  5. yellowdog says:

    That’s nothing! Last time I got laid off, I floated away on a golden parachute worth 4 weeks’ severance, plus 4 days’ accumulated vacation. I tell you, the living was LARGE that month.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      I got it better when I got laid off – 3 months pay plus whatever my back vacation was. After taxes and everything I ended up with a very nice chunk of change, especially considering I got a new job about a month later. A few months later, my old company sent me another check for about $300 for some long term incentive plan I was vested in.

    • Buckus says:

      When I got laid off, I got FOUR month’s pay! These CEO’s got nothing on me…I mean, other than about $100 million in severance pay, on average. But otherwise, nada.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Hey, my company just took away our accumulated vacation time. You still are technically allowed to take vacation, but if you leave you get nothing. Nice way to screw over employees when they lay them off.

  6. azgirl says:

    I guess I don’t have an issue with a company like Ebay having this kind of deal.. I think Ebay is good for a lot of people.. I DO have an issue with environmental destructors getting away with destroying the world, and then the CEO’s get rewards…

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      That’s exactly why the administration is investing your tax dollars in terrific green energy companies like Solyndra and Ener1.

    • Extended-Warranty says:

      What makes eBay good? The fact that many traditional jobs have went to the wayside in favor of selling stolen, counterfeit, broken, refurbished goods that do not collect any sales taxes?

      • azgirl says:

        Maybe because when you are unemployed you can sell your stuff their easily? I guess I just have used Ebay enough over the years to be a fan.. I also don’t see them out there destroying the planet…and if its refurbed and being reused-that’s environmental..

        As for the theft part- I assume that thefts occurred before Ebay, and it is not Ebay’s fault it was pilfered…certainly the theives get a wider audience, but theives will theive no matter what…

  7. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    …and if all that money was taxed at 100%, it would pay about 1/2 of the amount that was given as foreign aid last year just to Egypt, a country whose citizens mostly hate us.

  8. mikedt says:

    And yet many of these CEO’s presided over a company while it lost market share, profitability and shed jobs. So much for “pay for performance”.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      From just a quick analysis of stock price (not adjusted for splits and this lowers their numbers) the vast majority saw good to excellent stock growth under their tenure.

      A few didn’t have numbers that we available since they have been taken over.

      Assuming I purchased $10,000 worth of stock the day they signed on and sold it the day they left and for everyone that there isn’t info available I assume a total loss, I make out great.

      Invest: $210,000
      Get back: $2,248,956

      I’ll take that.

      • TheWillow says:

        Problem being that the incentives are entirely based on short term measures, like stock price. If the decisions make you stock money in the short term, but in the long run (say, 5 years after the CEO leaves) bankrupt the company and destroy the planet, it’s a win. There’s no incentive for long term planning/strategy unless you started the company and have some sort of emotional attachment to it.

    • DerangedKitsune says:

      Oh, please. Pay for Preformance is for the pathetic peons too low in the company to have control of their own paychecks.

    • bluline says:

      I don’t know about the other guys, but Jack Welch of General Electric is one of the most renowned businessmen in history. During his tenure as CEO, he grew GE’s annual revenues from $26.8 billion to nearly $130 billion. When he left GE, the company had gone from a market value of $14 billion to one of more than $410 billion, making it the most valuable and largest company in the world at the time. Not too shabby. Welch was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 1999.

      • rambo76098 says:

        That’s all fine and dandy, but if a company gets bailed out (including all the ones that did already), the CEO should have to give back every cent they earned for taking a working company and driving it straight into the ground.

        Perfect example on this list would be the CEO of Wachovia.

  9. mrw says:

    a large portion of the compensation is likely tied into non-compete agreements and non-solicitation agreements so that senior management doesn’t just turn around and take another high paying job at a competitor to harm the original company. also, its not clear if this analysis is excluding stock value appreciation for shares that were restricted while they were in charge but “earned” prior to them leaving.

    • markvii says:

      Maybe so on the non-competes, however….

      During a layoff, my employer gives people two week’s severance (unless they’re getting rid of enough people that the WARN acts cuts in, then it’s the legal minimum), yet reminds the departing employee that they’re still subject to the one-year non-compete clause in the employee agreement.

      My view — if you’re going to give the CEO enough money to ride out a non-compete, the same should be given to every one else.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        In many jurisdictions, courts have found noncompete agreements are nonenforceable illegal restriction on one’s right to work, particularly in the case of noncontracted, hire/fire-at-will employees.

    • Marlin says:

      Yea I would hate to have our fired CEO that ran our company into the ground go work for the competitor and do the same for them.

      /s

    • mrw says:

      but non-management employees might not have access to the confidential information and detailed strategic plans of the company … or contractual details with customers or suppliers that would be an issue from a competitive standpoint. those that do have multi-year non-competes…

  10. AldisCabango says:

    Only reason I”m angry is because I wasn’t smart enough to get a job as a CEO

  11. mrw says:

    a large portion of the compensation is likely tied into non-compete agreements and non-solicitation agreements so that senior management doesn’t just turn around and take another high paying job at a competitor to harm the original company. also, its not clear if this analysis is excluding stock value appreciation for shares that were restricted while they were in charge but “earned” prior to them leaving.

    • Marlin says:

      Yea I would hate to have our fired CEO that ran our company into the ground go work for the competitor and do the same for them.

      /s

  12. Snoofin says:

    Why is it that the OWS people and many others always villify and get angry at CEOs who make a lot of money but the absolutely NEVER say a thing about sports athletes who simply play a game and get 20 million dollars a year, or actors who make 50 million dollars to make a movie or Music artists who make millions just singing, but CEOs are people who worked all their lives to get where they are, often work many more than 40 hours a week, and they are the ones that get the vitriol?

    • pop top says:

      “CEOs are people who worked all their lives to get where they are, often work many more than 40 hours a week, and they are the ones that get the vitriol?”

      This is funny.

      • Extended-Warranty says:

        What is funny about that? CEOs are hired into their position straight out of college, right?

    • mrw says:

      its probably the combination of an unjustified high opinions of oneself and the vilification of what they do not understand. people in their 20s and early 30s today suffer from an entitlement syndrome where they want things handed to them. the world (usually) doesn’t work that way. the college experience doesn’t necessarily help because most people go to a school and pay one big fee (usually with debt) and get room/board, meal plans, etc. all included. so students rarely get a good sense of how much cash outflow really occurs on a monthly basis. even if they did, they probably wouldn’t care since that would be putting a price on their freedom from living at home!

      • coffee100 says:

        “Complete this task and we will give you $10,000.”

        “Okay.”

        (Goes and completes the task)

        “Can I have my $10,000 now?”

        “What? You want us to just hand it to you?”

    • dwtomek says:

      Remind me again who the last athlete was that spent millions lobbying members of Congress to push legislation protecting a dying business model at the cost of those less well off? (I.E. personal freedoms, destruction of environment) Those athletes aren’t getting rich at the American public’s detriment.

    • dwtomek says:

      Remind me again who the last athlete was that spent millions lobbying members of Congress to push legislation protecting a dying business model at the cost of those less well off? (I.E. personal freedoms, destruction of environment) Those athletes aren’t getting rich at the American public’s detriment.

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      I guess this explains why I am not a member of the OWS gang – because I complain all the time about the fact that entertainers who basically do nothing important and athletes, also who do nothing important, get massively overpaid and it pretty much makes me want to barf. Preferably on an athlete or entertainer.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        As much as I don’t think that a guy who hits a ball for a living should get paid $20,000,000 a year, a bad decision in their line of work won’t set the world’s economy in flames.

    • WraithSama says:

      Because if the players/actors/artists who actually make the “product” that gets sold didn’t get paid that much money, the owner of the team/intellectual property/whatever would get ALL OF IT, which is even more unfair.

      Think about it. How many millions of dollars can a successful sports team pull in each year in ticket sales, licensing fees, merchandise, etc.? Tens of millions? Hundreds? If the players didn’t get their (unquestionably) exorbitant salaries, the owner of the team would get everything, even though it’s the players who made all that income possible. Same with musicians. Should their label get all the money their concerts, CDs, merchandise, etc. bring in? Or should the musician get a reasonable chunk of that because it’s their talents that generate it.

      Is it ridiculous that these people get paid so much for playing a game or singing a song? Of course. But the alternative is even more ridiculous.

    • Kuri says:

      Probably because those people do actual work.

      • tjustman says:

        Ah, so you can assure us that CEOs do no work?

        Please.

        • Kuri says:

          Maybe my comment was out of line, but I don’t get how they can get away with paying their workers less and less, since those workers, you know, produce products that make them money, as well as closing down factories when they’re still raking in profits.

  13. Extended-Warranty says:

    Personally, I don’t get angry at big CEO salaries. It is a hard job, and you deserve to make a lot of money if you can raise the value of your company. This is one of the few times I don’t approve of the money they make. If you do a poor job, you shouldn’t get a fat severance package.

    Other than that, I’m getting tired of entitled America who blames their problem on their own work ethic.

    We’re very quick to point the finger to the rich. Yet, we casually ignore the damage done to our economy by supporting ebay, Amazon, and Craigslist. They kill jobs more than anything.

    • Gally says:

      This is what they get for leaving, retiring, and being fired.

      Multi-million dollar athletes, at least, earn their ball clubs revenue on merchandizing and winning records.

      CEO’s can run a company into the ground and still come out with these kinds of benefits.

    • VashTS says:

      Aren’t most CEO’s of big corps given their jobs because they are all related to each other? I always thought so…could be wrong though.

  14. AllanG54 says:

    There are a few dunderheads in there but may of them did fantastic jobs for their companies and the stockholders. Apparently the boards of these companies felt they deserved the money and stock options they got.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      I agree: Did a rough estimate that I posted above:

      Assuming I purchased $10,000 worth of stock the day they signed on and sold it the day they left and for everyone that there isn’t info available I assume a total loss, I make out great.

      Invest: $210,000
      Get back: $2,248,956

    • Costner says:

      The problem with the idea of a golden parachute is that often times it is negotiated up front, so they tend to get it whether they do well or not. Often their severence package isn’t even tied to performance.

      I’m just surprised they didn’t list the CEOs who were fired after a year or two and yet made off with tens of millions in compensation for one or two years work. Or how about the ones who built up a company atop fake profits and then walked away with a few hundred million only to have the deck of cards fall apart a year or two later (aka Angelo Mozillo). Those are the ones that really are unjust.

  15. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Fuck them. Fuck them all.

  16. stoppie says:

    There’s a big difference between the top of this list (Jack Welch’s 20 year tenure at GE, during which its value increased 4000% and became the most valuable company in the world) and the bottom (some guy who got a golden parachute after less than a year as CEO of Viacom).

  17. donovanr says:

    in the sixties US income tax on a salary over 1 million was 90%. Seriously. They should do the same thing again. It is obscene that these any one people earn more than say all the professors at Stanford.
    You could take Welch of GE tax him 90% and have enough to pay 8,000 high performing teachers a life changing $45,000 bonus.

  18. MECmouse says:

    What’s truly amazing is that it’s 2012 and none of the top CEOs are women. Not a one.

    And I’m sorry, but NO ONE’S job is worth 400M+! And after all the years of making tons of money, how much do you really need?

    Good greed, Charlie Brown!

    • gregchang says:

      I see at least one woman: Margaret C. Whitman; eBay Inc. (1998-2008) $120,427,360

    • Promethean Sky says:

      “And I’m sorry, but NO ONE’S job is worth 400M+! And after all the years of making tons of money, how much do you really need?”

      I dunno, how much does it cost to fortify a private island against a million people who want your head on a pike?

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Hence the good old boy network.

      I guess women don’t feel like smoking cigars and playing poker in clandestine locations to conduct company business behind everyone else’s back.

  19. oldwiz65 says:

    And how much of the bonus came from bailout money? So we bailout these criminal organizations with our tax money and they use it to pay huge bonuses?

    • gregchang says:

      Probably none.
      Only a few of these severances were awarded after the bailouts.
      2008 and after, we have eBay Inc, XTO Energy Inc, Target Corp, CVS Caremark Corp, and Merck & Co., Inc./Schering-Plough.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      That compensation might not have come from bailout money but it probably most definately came from outsourcing overseas, layoffs, down sizing, corporate tax breaks & regulatory loopholes.

      And greed of course.

  20. u1itn0w2day says:

    HUSH MONEY, clear and simple HUSH money.

    And companies get caught doing stuff without the CEO’s testimony, just think how much more evidence and testimony could be obtained if there was no incentive to talk. Just like athletes I’d bet alot of these compensation packages have morals clauses in them. So criminal activity won’t get paid.

    The job of the CEO is tough but they are paid for it. And CEOs tend to be busy so they wind up delegating and simply signing off on alot of stuff not knowing what’s in there even though it is their job and responsibility. I’d bet they use the too busy excuse to sign off/approve alot of stuff knowing full well what’s in there, heck they might of initiated crap themselves.

    But such is life in the innner circles in the executive world of corporate America.

  21. beaverfan says:

    Yep creating jobs…in third world countries!

    The new slogan for America is: You want jobs? You want healthcare? You want retirement? F%$k you!

  22. tjustman says:

    At least CEOs do work create value for their shareholders and employees (hopefully). I don’t see anyone fretting about the billions of dollars that go to sports athletes that play a game for a living.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      ??? So what about all of the people that work for the team? What about all of the people that operate the stadiums, food vendors, TV networks, etc? Yes, it’s just one guy playing a game and no one else gets paid a cent. Wow, you must have really thought a long time about that comment.

  23. oldwiz65 says:

    Your federal bailout dollars at work! I always thought the bailout money went for bonuses.