CEO Pay Sinks for First Time in 7 Years

As profits decline, so do bonuses, especially at financial firms
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2009 8:52 AM CDT
Citigroup Chief Vikram Pandit was one of the highest paid CEOs, bringing in $38.2 million.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, file)
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(Newser) – CEOs took a pay cut in 2008—their first in seven years—as profits plunged and brought bonuses with them. The median compensation for the leaders of 200 big US companies fell 8.5% to $2.24 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. That includes both salaries, which rose 4.5%, and bonuses, which dropped 10.9%, as profits fell 5.8%. At financial firms, the drop was even steeper, with total compensation falling 14.2%.

Public outrage about outsized CEO pay had little effect, however. Equity grants, which make up the lion’s share of CEO compensation, remained virtually unchanged from 2007 levels. But 2009 may be a different story; many companies have already announced plans to cut pay. “We are at a historic turning point in CEO compensation,” said one corporate governance professor.