Comcast's Brian Roberts
Comcast's Brian Roberts
Total perks: $3.4 million
Comcast (CMCSA), a U.S. media, entertainment and communications company, scores high in one category: CEO Brian Roberts takes home the second-biggest perks package in Equilar's study, at $3.4 million in 2011. Most of this was from the $3.1 million Comcast paid him in deferred compensation retirement plan contributions.
Roberts makes so much, and owns so much Comcast stock, you might wonder why shareholders are forced to give him even more for retirement. He made $27 million to $31 million a year in 2009 through 2011. And he owns 23.58 million shares, worth around $870 million.
So why does he get $3.1 million a year in pension payments? Maybe it's because Roberts is both CEO and chairman of the board, which may limit the board's exuberance in overseeing Roberts and his perks. "Is a company a sandbox for the CEO, or is the CEO an employee?" former Intel (INTC) CEO Andrew Grove once asked. "If he's an employee, he needs a boss, and that boss is the board. How can the CEO be his own boss?”
Thus the AFL-CIO Office of Investment has been filing shareholder proposals asking that the two roles be separated. "There's no way you can be your own boss and be impartial about how much money you should receive," says Anand. Roberts controls 33 per cent of the vote, which makes it tough for shareholder activists to get traction.
Comcast says the dual role isn't a problem, since more than 70 per cent of board members are independent, and that pay is set by a board committee made up of all independent directors. Pay policy also aligns the interests of executives and shareholders and has "helped create significant shareholder value over the past several years," says a Comcast spokesman.
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