Outrageous CEO Perks: This Year's Top Picks

cashThanks to gross excesses in executive compensation exposed during the financial crisis, CEO pay has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.

At the prodding of the SEC, compensation boards at public companies have cleaned up their acts somewhat, but CEOs still typically make far more than shareholders consider reasonable. Plus they often negotiate lavish perks that increase their pay by millions more.

To see the latest trends in perks and pay, 24/7 Wall St. examined the most recent proxies of dozens of large public companies where CEOs have outsized overall compensation. Not surprisingly, we found buried in the fine print, some very generous benefits. This is the 24/7 Wall St. list of outrageous CEO perks:

$391,000 in Tax Prep
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) shareholders have enjoyed returns of more than 35% this past year under CEO Ray Irani's reign. As a result, Irani's current compensation is $31.4 million. Included in that figure is personal tax preparation and financial planning at a cost of $391,000. The average person pays about $500 for financial planning. At Occidental's 2010 annual meeting, however, over half of shares voted were against the company's say-on-pay proposal (which means half the shareholders who voted were not happy with his compensation).

Richard Anderson$772,000 to Cover Underwater Mortgage on Home Sale
Richard Anderson of Delta Air Lines (DAL) may not make as much as the other CEOs listed, but he certainly has his share of corporate perks. Although he earns $2.25 million a year, Anderson relies on the company to cover a number of what could be considered personal costs. For instance, Delta paid Anderson $772,000 in relocation costs because his home in Minneapolis, which he needed too sell to move to Atlanta, was worth less than his mortgage. No doubt, a lot of Delta employees and shareholders are desperate to get out from under their underwater mortgages too.

Carol Bartz$110,000 for an Attorney to Negotiate Compensation
Carol Bartz, who joined Yahoo (YHOO) as CEO in January 2009, received about $39 million in compensation for that year. That included equity she otherwise would have made at her last job. However, according to estimates made by Glass Lewis, a leading governance consulting firm, Yahoo paid her more than she should have received, putting her in the top of its overpaid CEO list. Bartz, however, did not want to pay her attorney fees to negotiate compensation from Yahoo. Later, Yahoo paid the $110,000 bill.

$1.3 million to Relocate for New Job
Having just been hired on July 13, 2009, Boston Scientific (BSX) CEO Ray Elliot is quite fortunate to be receiving compensation totaling $33.4 million. Included in this is $1.3 million for relocation costs and a cost-of-living allowance, apparently needed for Elliot's new position.

Larry Ellison$1.4 million in Security Services
Those holding executive positions at Oracle (ORCL) are known for receiving immense compensation without being held to any specific performance requirements. CEO Larry Ellison, for instance, received $84.5 million in 2009 -- the highest amount paid to any U.S. CEO that year. As though this were not enough, Oracle provides Ellison with $1.4 million in security-related costs.

$216,000 in Club Memberships
Randall L. Stephenson of AT&T (T) is the country's 12th-highest paid CEO, with yearly compensation of $20.3 million. Part of this pay includes $216,000, which is used specifically for Stephenson's club memberships. Additionally, Stephenson receives compensation in the form of automobile benefits and aircraft usage, including catering and crew travel costs.

Travelers CEO Jay S. Fishman$724,000 for Car and Driver
Another of the country's top-paid CEOs is Travelers' (TRV) Jay S. Fishman. He receives yearly compensation of $20.1 million. Of that, $724,000 goes toward car and driver services, as well as aircraft services, helping Fishman live up to his company's name. Many employees would say it's difficult to get their employers to just cover gas.

$639,000 in Aircraft Use
The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) made a massive $38.5 million in 2009. This salary earned him the second-highest ranking on Glass Lewis's overpaid CEO list. In fact, Michael Jeffries's 2009 compensation exceeded that given to the company's four other top executives combined by more than 360%. It's difficult to see any logical reasoning behind Jeffries's excessive compensation, especially when considering that $639,000 goes toward his personal use of a company-owned aircraft.

Les Moonves$2.5 Million in Tax Reimbursement
Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS (CBS), is paid $44.1 million. CBS, however, is headquartered in New York, while Moonves lives in California. So, CBS pays $2.5 million in tax reimbursement to cover the difference between what Moonves would have paid if he lived only in California.

Surveys show that shareholders of many public firms believe a chief executive should make $2 million or $3 million and have bonuses that are tied to stock options. Yet, companies are still clearly willing to pay top dollar to recruit a new CEO or keep an existing one happy.

The position that most boards take when they defend CEO pay is that top talent is scarce. It's the same argument sports teams use when they offer players exorbitant salaries: Pay the going rate, or let the player go elsewhere.

That may be true. But one thing is clear from our list: Average Americans aren't likely to have high regard for executives who get larded with such outrageously lavish perks.

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Unfortunately, we have no more voice in this matter than we do the salaries of our elected politicians. We can rail on daily about how unfair it is, but we are preaching to the choir. Both dictate their own compensation, and both claim they deserve every penny. No matter what we say, it will continue as it has until the corporations fold up. Those of us who actually work for a living, who actually get our hands dirty will be unemployed and suffering relentlessly, while those who were at the top will have their contracted severance packages worth multi-millions to get them through the 'rough times'.

November 21 2010 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is absolutely nothing these people do to 'earn' these ridiculous salaries. Unfortunately, they are in a similar position as our politicians. It is they who help dictate their salaries, and they sure as hell aren't going to say, "Ya know, you're right. I really do make way more than I'm worth, and I think I need a major pay cut. I also think we'll cancel my great list of perks". The chances of that happening are pretty well equal to my growing wings and flying back to San Diego. These people not only make these ludicrous salaries, but not one will pay taxes proportionate to that income. There are entirely too many hiding places that the wealthy elite are entitled to that the lower classes never see. These tax exempt 'sanctuaries' were specifically created for those of the higher income brackets to prevent them from being taxed on their full income. For someone who makes $30 million gross, they pay taxes on maybe $5 - $10 million. I have always been an advocate of a simple flat tax of 25-30%, off the absolute gross, with no deductions allowed, for anything. There will be no income that's tax exempt, and there will be no special little hiding places. If you make $10,000 a year, you pay $3,000 and you're done. If you make $30 Million, you pay $10 Million and you're done. I also think no one should be CEO unless they've put in at least a year on the factory floor to see what it's really like to actually work for a living, with the caveat that they can indeed be fired for poor performance, just like anyone else.

November 21 2010 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only way to stop the scam is with the stockholders.

November 21 2010 at 9:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nothing has changed Delta CEO has done the same scam; when he was the CEO of Northwest Airlines(NWA). Ask the people of Minnesota; how the state politicians along with CEO scammed the people of Minnesota of Jobs & Millons of $$$$. People have short memories. Minneasota is California of the Midwest!!!!!

November 21 2010 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Average Americans aren't likely to have high regard for executives who get larded with such outrageously lavish perks. Ouch! That must hurt.

November 20 2010 at 8:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Not to worry, when the economy fails and chaos rules, the Red Chinese will come in and take over. Then all our problems like this insanity will seem so small compared.

November 20 2010 at 11:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Let me bet that Travelers paid a miniscule dividend (if any at all) to their stockholders, while they were paying Jay Fishman $20.1 million! Wonder how many auto and homeowners' claims they denied in order to pay Fishman this outrageous sum? Stockholders, ARISE! Contest this ridiculous pay package, and have a substantial portion of it redirected to YOUR accounts; you, after all, are taking a chance by funding the operations of the company...

November 15 2010 at 11:15 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

All one has to do is ponder our recent housing crash that was precipitated by " top talent" in the banking business! What a shame and now millions of people in all sectors of our economy are suffering! Many people feel as I do and think some of these people should be in jail..........

November 15 2010 at 12:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

How about busting no talents like Justin Bieber and Mylie Cyrus? How much are they paid? Let's tax Hollywood 75 percent of what they earn since they are so apt to support programs that that cost us trillions of dollars. Angelina Jolie would still get to keep 5 million of the 20 million dollars she makes per movie. That's surely enough to live on even in LaLa land. Let's put in a special bill for Michael Moore and tax him at 90 percent. He will still be a millionaire.

November 14 2010 at 10:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to steelesasteele's comment

One difference, steels-- you have the OPTION of whether or not you want to buy a record, or see a film, or otherwise support actors and other performers. You MUST, however, purchase homeowner's insurance to purchase a home, or auto insurance to buy a car. That's why the real outrage here is what was paid to Jay Fishman of Traveler's Insurance: $20.1 million!!! What a steaming pile...

November 15 2010 at 11:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Alot of these posts are true,but consider Alan Mulally.Saved Ford,turned it around,no bailouts.After he left, Boeing tanked and can't produce a plane thats been promised 3 years ago.Some are just WORTH what they are paid,others are not.Blame the Boards of the companies that are NOT.base plus performance should be the rule.Dont stop the winners,but don't PAY the losers

November 13 2010 at 2:05 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply