The typical CEO at the biggest U.S. companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, raking in $11.5 million in salary, stock and other compensation last year, according to a study by executive data firm Equilar for The Associated Press.
That's the biggest raise in three years. The bump reflects how well stocks have done under these CEOs' watch. Boards of directors increasingly require that CEOs push their stock price higher to collect their maximum possible payout, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index returned 12 percent last year. Over the last five years, median CEO pay in the survey has jumped by 19.6 percent, not accounting for inflation. That's nearly double the 10.9 percent rise in the typical weekly paycheck for full-time employees across the country. But CEO pay did fall for one group of companies last year: those where investors complained the loudest about executive pay.
Compensation dropped for nine of the 10 companies scoring the lowest on "Say on Pay" votes, where shareholders give thumbs up or down on top executives' earnings. Other measures that would highlight the income gap between CEOs and typical workers are on the way, but governance watchdogs worry that Congress will kill or dilute their strength.
The highest-paid executive in the survey was Thomas Rutledge of Charter Communications, which absorbed Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks last year to become the nation's second-largest cable operator. His compensation totaled $98 million, about $88 million of that from stock and option awards included as part of a new five-year employment agreement. No. 2 on the survey was Leslie Moonves at CBS, who made $68.6 million. No. 3 was Walt Disney's Robert Iger, at $41 million. That was 6 percent less than the year before, as slowing growth resulted in a bonus cut.
Meanwhile, women CEOs earned big bucks last year, but there's still very few of them running the world's largest companies. The median pay for a female CEO was $13.1 million last year, up 9 percent from 2015. By comparison, male CEOs earned $11.4 million, also up 9 percent. The highest paid woman was Virginia Rometty of International Business Machines Corp., bumping out Yahoo's Marissa Mayer from the top spot. Rometty earned $32.3 million last year from the technology company, a 63 percent jump from the year before, mainly due to $12.1 million in stock option awards she didn't receive in 2015. Mayer earned $27.4 million last year, making her the second-highest paid woman. Third on the list was Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo Inc., the maker of Mountain Dew soda and Lay's potato chips. She earned $25.2 million, up 13 percent from 2015.
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