Jobs tops U.S. CEO salary list

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of major U.S. companies make an average of US$12 million a year – and Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs tops the list, according to a Bloomberg article.

The story says Jobs tallied US$219 million a year in a review of total pay from 2000 through 2002 for 243 CEOs running companies with 2002 revenue of US$5 billion or more.

The review examines three years “because all compensation elements aren’t present in any single year,” according to Graef Crystal, the Bloomberg News columnist, who wrote the article. Data for the study was furnished by Equilar Inc., an independent provider of executive compensation information.

“Besides having the group’s highest three-year average annual pay, Jobs also wins my Most-Ludicrous-Pay-Package trophy … When Jobs returned to Apple in August 1997 to run the company he co-founded, he started out with a pay package of precisely one element – (US)$1 a year in salary,” Crystal writes. “Then, in a stunning display of love gone out of control, Jobs’ board in 2000 gave him title to a free Gulfstream 5 jet for his personal use and also history’s most valuable stock option grant, one covering 20 million shares, equal to about six per cent of all outstanding shares.”

The jet, including reimbursing Jobs for all of his taxes on the gift, as well as the taxes on the taxes on the taxes, cost Apple shareholders US$84 million. In fiscal 2002, Apple’s Board of Directors gave Jobs options on another 7.5 million shares.

“In March 2003, after the end of my study period, Jobs gave up the ghost entirely on stock options,” Crystal writes. “He turned in his 27.5 million option shares for a grant of five million free shares worth $74.6 million.”