Another Rich Payday for Another GM Exec

It seems that the TARP-related pay restrictions which have generated so much publicity in the battle between pay czar Ken Feinberg and AIG's (AIG) CEO Robert Benmosche do not apply to GM. Benmosche fought and generally lost arguments to get his top people compensation packages that would be competitive with the balance of the industry. His general counsel quit over the matter.

GM announced on March 5 that it would pay Stephen J. Girsky, its new Vice Chairman for Corporate Strategy and Business Development, $5 million in compensation for this year. His base salary will be $500,000 and he will get $3,000,000 in stock, which will be delivered over three years beginning in 2012. In addition, Girsky will receive restricted stock units valued at $1,500,000. The information was filed with the SEC in an 8-K.

It is not as if GM is doing all that well. The firm's CEO, Ed Whitacre, who has a new $9 million pay package of his own, has said the car company could be profitable this year and may even have an IPO. GM's sales rose 11.5% in February, but competitor Ford's (F) were up 43% and its monthly sales per month were higher than GM's for the first time in 12 years.

U.S. car sales are running at an annual rate of about 10.5 million, well below the 11.5 million to 12 million that Detroit has forecast. GM, which is 70% owned by the U.S. government, owes taxpayers $50 billion. Taking $1 a year to keep a big American car company afloat is a something that Lee Iaccoca was willing to do. But it looks like that kind of largess has gone out of fashion.

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