Nearly 40% of CEOs on the highest-paid lists from the past 20 years were either bailed out, booted, or busted:
20th anniversary Executive Excess report examines the “performance” of the 241 corporate chief executives who have ranked among America’s 25 highest-paid CEOs in one or more of the past 20 years.
The lavishly compensated CEOs we spotlight here should be exemplars of value-added performance. After all, sky-high CEO pay purportedly reflects the superior value that elite chief executives add to their enterprises and the broader U.S. economy.
The report’s key finding: nearly 40 percent of the CEOs on these highest-paid lists were eventually “bailed out, booted, or busted.”
- The Bailed Out: CEOs whose firms either ceased to exist or received taxpayer bailouts after the 2008 financial crash held 22 percent of the slots in our sample. Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers enjoyed one of Corporate America’s largest 25 paychecks for eight consecutive years — until his firm went belly up in 2008.
- The Booted: Not counting those on the bailed out list, another 8 percent of our sample was made up of CEOs who wound up losing their jobs involuntarily. Despite their poor performance, the “booted” CEOs jumped out the escape hatch with golden parachutes valued at $48 million on average.
- The Busted: CEOs who led corporations that ended up paying significant fraud-related fines or settlements comprised an additional 8 percent of the sample. One CEO had to pay a penalty out of his own pocket for stock option back-dating. The other companies shelled out payments that totaled over $100 million per firm.