CEO pay raises double in 2003

Watchdog group says compensation for CEOs at the helm of the largest companies in the U.S. shows calls for pay restraint are being ignored

Chief executive officers at the helm of the largest corporations in the United States got healthy pay raises in 2003, according to a study by The Corporate Library, an independent watchdog group based in Maine.

Total compensation for CEOs in the S&P 500 rose by a median 22.18 per cent last year, double the raise the group saw in 2002.

Driven by the exercise of stock options and the award of restricted stock, increases of more than 1,000 per cent were seen at four companies in the S&P 500 — Oracle, Apple Computers, Yahoo and Colgate-Palmolive.

Total compensation for all CEOs — based on a sample of 1,429 — rose by a median of 15.04 per cent, showing that the S&P 500 leads the way in pay levels and pay growth.

“This double-digit rise in pay shows that calls for pay restraint appear to be being ignored,” stated a press release put out by The Corporate Library. “The increase for all CEOs in 2003 was 50 per cent higher than the rise seen for 2002, when total compensation rose by only 4.9 per cent.”

The group said every single element of pay rose in value, including base salary, annual bonuses, total annual compensation, restricted stock, long-term incentive payouts and the value realized from the exercise of stock options.

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