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Many ‘No-Pay’ CEOs Actually Were Richly Compensated, Study Finds

April 22, 2009
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When a corporate chief executive voluntarily forgoes a salary or takes $1 a year in pay, it’s largely symbolic in many cases, according to a report released by The Corporate Library.

In 41 companies where the chief executive had either no base salary or a salary of $1 for the year, as well as no cash bonus, 21 received some form of “all other compensation” payment, the study—of 2008 proxy filings—released Friday, April 17, found. And the 18 executives who voluntary went without base salary had a combined total of nearly $6 billion in company stock alone.

The companies represented all of the chief executives who did not take a salary out of the 3,488 publicly traded companies in The Corporate Library’s database.

Among them were eight financial services firms where the chief executive did not receive a base salary. Of those, the report said, only three did not receive any other compensation: CEOs of Chimera Investment Corp. of New York, GLG Partners of London and Compass Diversified Trust of Westport, Connecticut.

The remaining financial services firms that paid their chief executives with other forms of compensation were:

• Richard J. Lampen of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. of Miami, who received $621,500;

• Mario J. Gabelli of Gamco Investors Inc. of Rye, New York, $70.9 million;

• John K. Delaney of CapitalSource Inc. of Chevy Chase, Maryland, $404,370;

• John W. Allison, of Home BancShares Inc. of Conway, Arkansas, $521,164; and

• Richard Fairbank of CapitalOne Financial Corp. of McLean, Virginia, $73.2 million.

Capital One’s CEO has received no annual salary, bonus or other cash compensation since 1997, the firm’s spokeswoman, Julie Rakes, wrote in an e-mail.

“[Richard Fairbank]’s compensation is 100 percent performance-based and he only gets paid when shareholders get paid. In 2007, Fairbank exercised stock options that he received almost 10 years before, so his income reflected the same gains in Capital One’s stock that shareholders saw during that time. At this time, Fairbank’s compensation remains all equity, all at-risk, all deferred, as it has for the past 11 years.”

Calls for comment to the other four firms were not immediately returned.

The Corporate Library of Portland, Maine, is an independent research firm focused on executive compensation and corporate governance.

Filed by Sue Asci of Investment News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce com.

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