They’re not Hollywood stars, they’re not TV personalities and they don’t play in a rock band, but their pay packages are in the same league.
Six of the 10 highest-paid CEOs last year worked in the media industry, according to a study carried out by executive compensation data firm Equilar and The Associated Press.
The best-paid chief executive of a large American company was David Zaslav, head of Discovery Communications, the pay-TV channel operator that is home to “Shark Week.” His total compensation more than quadrupled to $156.1 million in 2014 after he extended his contract.
Les Moonves, of CBS, held on to second place in the rankings, despite a drop in pay from a year earlier. His pay package totaled $54.4 million.
The remaining four CEOs, from entertainment giants Viacom, Walt Disney, Comcast and Time Warner, have ranked among the nation’s highest-paid executives for at least four years, according to the Equilar/AP pay study.
One reason for the high level of pay in the industry is that its CEOs are dealing with well-paid individuals.
“The talent, the actors and directors and writers, they’re being paid a lot of money,” said Steven Kaplan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “In industries where the talent makes a lot of money, the CEO makes a lot of money as well.”
Pay packages for CEOs overall grew for the fifth straight year in 2014, driven by a rising stock market that pushed up the value of executive stock awards. Median compensation for the heads of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies rose to a record $10.6 million, up from $10.5 million the year before, according to the Equilar/AP pay study.
Peer pressure is another factor driving up executive compensation. The board members responsible for setting CEO pay typically consider what the heads of similar companies are making. If pay for one goes up, it will likely go up for others.
For the chieftains of media, there are other factors boosting pay.
Several work at companies where a few major shareholders control the vote.
The media magnate Sumner Redstone controls almost 80 percent of the voting stock at CBS and Viacom. Because of his large holdings, Redstone can easily override the concerns of other investors about the level of CEO pay. Discovery’s voting stock is heavily influenced by the brothers Si and Donald Newhouse and John Malone, another influential investor in the media industry.
At Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Studios, CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts controls a third of his company’s voting stock. That means he has substantial influence on the pay that he is awarded.
All of the media executives have tried, with varying degrees of success, to maximize the value of their company’s entertainment brands online and on mobile devices.
Top 10 Women CEOs
Times are certainly good for female chief executives. In fact, they now trump their male counterparts in pay. During the latest fiscal year, female CEOs in the S&P 500 earned an average of $18.8 million, exceeding the $12.7 million average paid to the 455 male CEOs listed.
No. 1: Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, $42.1 million, up 69%
Yahoo’s stock price has climbed 177% since the technology company hired Mayer from Google in July 2012. That compares with a gain of 76% for the tech-focused Nasdaq over the same time. Earnings jumped at Yahoo last year after it raised $9.5 billion by selling part of its stake in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce site owner.
No. 2: Carol Meyrowitz, TJX Companies, $23.3 million, up 13%
Meyrowitz has led the parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and other stores, since January 2007. For the year that ended in January, the company reported profit of $2.22 billion on revenue of $29.08 billion. The company said in February that it would lift hourly wages for its employees. Workers that have been employed for six months or more will earn at least $10 an hour.
No. 3: Margaret Whitman, Hewlett-Packard, $19.6 million, up 11%
When Whitman rejoined HP in 2011, the company’s board established an initial salary of $1 a year. For 2014, the board decided it was time to raise the salary portion of her pay package to make it consistent with her peers at similar technology companies. Her base salary increased to $1.5 million.
No. 4: Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo, $19.1 million, up 45%
PepsiCo., which makes Frito-Lay snacks, Gatorade sports drinks and Quaker oatmeal, has improved its performance by raising prices and slashing costs. The company’s earnings were hit this year by currency volatility in countries like Russia and Bolivia, but this was offset by growth at Frito-Lay North America, which makes snacks such as Doritos, Cheetos and Tostitos.
No. 5: Phebe Novakovic, General Dynamics, $19 million, up 1%
Novakovic was a senior executive at General Dynamics for more than a decade before she was promoted to the top job in January 2013. Since she took the position, the defence contractor’s stock has doubled as it has increased dividend payouts and boosted stock buybacks.
No. 6: Virginia Rometty, IBM, $17.9 million, up 28%
The IBM boss was awarded a $3.6 million bonus for her performance last year, even though the company’s sales and profits declined. Her overall pay jumped from 2013, when Rometty and other top executives did not take bonuses after IBM turned in disappointing results.
No. 7: Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin, $17.9 million, up 13%
Hewson is a 32-year veteran at Lockheed Martin and the second chief executive at a defence company to top the list of best-paid female CEOs. Her pay award increased as the company’s earnings rose. Lockheed’s stock also gained nearly 30%.
No. 8: Patricia Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, $16.3 million, up 138%
Woertz’s near nine-year tenure as CEO of Archer Daniels Midland ended in December, though she still holds the position of chairman at the company, which makes vegetable oil, ethanol and ingredients used in packaged foods and drinks. Her compensation included $501,560 for relocation expenses after ADM moved its global headquarters to Chicago from Decatur, Illinois.
No. 9: Irene Rosenfeld, Mondelez International, $15.9 million, up 14%
The maker of Oreo cookies, Cadbury chocolate and Trident gum raised Rosenfeld’s overall pay by 14% last year. Shareholders didn’t fare as well. The company’s stock rose 3 per cent, compared with a gain of 11.4% for the broader stock market.
No. 10: Ellen Kullman, DuPont, $13.1 million, down 1%
Kullman spent much of last year fending off an attempt by activist investor Nelson Peltz to gain more influence over the 212-year old chemical company. She prevailed in May this year after shareholders voted against his campaign. But the fight showed that DuPont needed to do a better job of explaining its transformation from a traditional chemical maker to a faster-growing company focused on agricultural products and advanced materials, she said.