Unlike some, I'm not that up in arms over high CEO pay... if they deserve it
. In an open market, if an executive can command top dollar, based on strong performance, I'm all for it. However, if the pay is so totally divorced from performance as to be completely laughable, you have to wonder what's up. Case in point: former NY Times CEO Janet Robinson received an "exit package" of $23.7 million
. It was broken down thusly:
Robinson gets pension and supplemental retirement income valued at $11.4 million, performance awards of $5.39 million, restricted stock units worth $1.07 million and stock options worth $694,164, according to the company’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. She will also earn $4.5 million in consulting fees for this year.
Now perhaps you can argue that this is well deserved and negotiated. But here's a key data point found in the same article:
The payout to Robinson is equal to about 2.4 percent of the company’s market value of $981.9 million, and exceeds the approximately $3 million the company earned in net income over the past four years. Not included in Robinson’s exit package is her salary of $1 million for 2011, when Times Co. reported a loss $39.7 million.
Okay. One argument you can make is that at least the NYTimes made some
money over the last four years. But can we ask what kind of "performance awards" would make sense when the award massively exceeds the actual profit of the company? Similarly, what kind of "consulting fees" would make sense when those consulting fees also exceed the profit of the company over the last four years combined?