America's Top CEOs Had a Nice Fat 2010
How nice? Their compensation jumped 27% to 40%
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2011 12:25 PM CST
Aetna Chairman and CEO Ronald Williams retired this year, taking with him a $50.4 million payday; the company's stock declined 70% over Williams' six-year tenure.   (AP Photo/Bob Child, file)

(Newser) – Today, in Depressing Coincidences in Journalism, we're greeted with the news that nearly 50% of Americans are living below the poverty level or very close to it—and the news that America's top CEOs saw their 2010 pay jump a crazy 27% to 40%. The latter revelation comes via the Guardian, which reports on an exclusive review of data released by GMI Ratings, in a survey of 2,647 US companies. Among its findings:

  • The biggest fatcat, John Hammergren, who helms healthcare firm McKesson, walked away with $145.3 million. (Oh, and there's more to come: If his company changes owners, he'll get a $469 million payoff.)
  • Four of the 10 highest-paid CEOs were retiring, including Aetna's Ronald Williams, who cashed in a $50.4 million payday. Williams watched Aetna's stock decline 70% in his six-year tenure.
  • Tally up the top 10 earners' pay, and you get $770 million.
  • All areas of compensation were up: salary, pensions, perks, etc.
  • One potential surprise: The top 10 contains zero bankers. Three hailed from the healthcare industry
  • The 2009 survey saw no such jump; compensation actually slightly declined for the third straight year.