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According to data firm Equilar for The Associated Press, which analyzed CEO salaries from 346 S&P 500 companies, a CEO at a top U.S. company was making an average of $11.5 million in annual salary, stock and other compensation last year. That’s an 8.5 percent raise compared to the year prior.
Of course, heighted CEO pay is a reflection of how well the company’s stocks have done that year under the executive. And a majority of a CEO’s pay is made up of his or her stock and other compensations, rather than just their annual salary. Over the years, boards of directors have been seen to increasingly require these executives to push their stock prices higher and collect a maximum payout. And last year, the S&P’s 500 index returned 12 percent.
While many CEOs saw a bump in their total compensations, some didn’t. For most of these companies, “Say on Pay” votes saw a decline because investors were vocalizing complaints about executive compensation.
And when it comes to determining how much to pay a CEO — boards of directors typically look to rival companies. That’s why it’s no surprise that the highest paid CEOs all fall in the same industry.
According to the data, the telecommunications industry is full of some of the highest paid CEOs. Thomas Rutledge of Charter Communications, which acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network and became the nation’s second largest cable operator, takes the cake for the top money-making CEO. His total compensation amounted to $98 million — however, $88 million of that was from stock and option awards. Behind Rutledge is CBS’s Leslie Moonves, who made a total $68.6 million — again, a majority from stock and options.
Check out the top five highest-paid executives, according to Equilar:
1. Thomas Rutledge, Charter Communications
Total compensation: $98 million
2. Leslie Moonves, CBS
Total compensation: $68.6 million
3. Robert Iger, Walt Disney
Total compensation: $41 million
4. David Zaslav, Discovery Communications
Total compensation: $37.2 million
5. Robert Kotick, Activision Blizzard
Total compensation: $33.1 million