Part of the collapse of the financial system and concerns about greed and excessive pay and perks across the entire public company sector is that shareholders often get very little and managers get too much.
The new ethos may have been lost on the board of News Corp. (NWS). Chase Carey, the company''s new president, could earn over $43 million his first year on the job. It might make sense to pay him for performance after he has been at the company for several years. It might make sense to pay him if the stock price, which is down 30 percent in the past year, moves up due to corporate performance.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "Under his five-year employment contract, Mr. Carey will receive a base salary of $8.1 million a year and a $10 million signing bonus." He is also eligible for additional bonus payments.
Why is the deal so rich? Probably because Rupert Murdoch rules the company with a iron fist and the board is unlikely to challenge his wishes. Carey's pay is beyond that of most other executives in the media industry. It is hard to imagine Disney (DIS) or Time Warner (TWX) paying a first-year president such a large sum.
The news is certainly a sign that someone like Murdoch, who has de facto control of News Corp., does not care about the recent concerns over compensation, especially at companies that have done nothing for their shareholders. Murdoch's biggest move of the last couple of years was closing a deal to buy Dow Jones. News Corp. overpaid enough so that it had to write-down the value of the financial publishing operation in the final quarter of 2008.
Did the News Corp. shareholders get to have a say on the new president's pay package? Absolutely not. And, it's not likely that Murdoch will allow executive comp issues to make it into the News Corp. proxy statements while he still has a breath in his body.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.