America’s highest-paid bosses are doing just fine. But according to shareholder advocates, they’re doing better than they should be.
According to a report released Wednesday by As You Sow, a California nonprofit shareholder advocacy group, the top 100 most overpaid CEOs of the country’s largest companies collected $2.72 billion dollars in compensation, or an average of $27.2 million apiece, as determined by their 2014 compensation, the most recent data available.
Topping the list this year was David Zaslav, head of Discovery Communications, owner of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the Oprah Winfrey Network. Zaslav topped the list with a 2014 package of $156.1 million, more than three times what Disney CEO Robert Iger made in the same period of time. Iger himself made it to No. 13 on this year’s list.
Executives receive pay packages with little regard to actual company performance, the group argued. In Zaslav’s case, the group says that if his compensation actually had a linear relationship to the return on shareholders’ investments his pay would be a fraction of what he earned in 2014: $14 million.
These pay packages are given with rubber-stamp approval from mutual fund managers like BlackRock and Vanguard who aren’t doing more to ensure these leaders are paid based on the performance of their company’s stock, the group said. Meanwhile, funds managed under socially responsible investing principles, such as Calvert and Domini, were more likely to oppose pay packages considered excessive.
“The 100 most overpaid CEOs deserve more scrutiny than they are getting today from mutual funds and pension funds,” said Rosanna Landis Weaver, the report’s lead author and head of the group’s executive compensation program. “Now is the time for shareholders, particularly those with fiduciary responsibilities, to become more engaged in their analysis of executive pay and those who award these packages.”
Companies for two of last year’s top 10 overpaid CEOs fell off the list completely this year after one was removed from the S&P 500 and the other slashed executive pay by half. Both are energy firms. Three companies remained on the top 10 list: chipmaker Oracle, and media companies CBS and Discovery Communications. Here is a breakdown of other changes on this year’s list:
1. Anthony G. Petrello of Nabors Industries Ltd. ($68,246,187) topped the list last year. This year the company fell off the list after it was removed from the S&P 500.
2. Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle Corp. ($78,440,657). Oracle remains No. 2, but Ellison stepped down as CEO since the last list was compiled.
3. Richard C. Adkerson of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. ($55,260,539). The mining company fell off the list after executive pay was slashed by half since the last list was compiled.
4. Leslie Moonves of CBS Corp. ($66,932,581) rose to No. 3 since last year’s list.
5. David M. Zaslav of Discovery Communications Inc. ($33,349,798) rose to No. 1 this year.
6. Robert A. Iger of the Walt Disney Co. ($34,321,055) fell to No. 13 this year.
7. Larry J. Merlo of CVS Caremark Corp. ($31,330,162) fell to No. 20 this year.
8. Philippe P. Dauman of Viacom Inc. ($37,186,099) fell to No. 15 this year.
9. Leonard S. Schleifer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. ($36, 272,665) fell to No. 19 this year.
10. John H. Hammergren of McKesson Corp. ($25,919,882) fell to No. 26 this year.