The CEOs of Occidental Petroleum and Walt Disney were near the top of the WSJ's annual compensation survey. Ray Irani recorded direct compensation of $49.9 million, mostly reflecting financial and stock performance. He also received more than $200 million last year from long-term incentive awards and by exercising stock options granted in prior years. Bob Iger had total direct compensation of $49.7 million - half of that coming from three million stock options he was granted in January 2008 as part of a contract extension. Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland said it's misleading to include the options in Iger's tally because they'll "be of value only to the extent the company performs and shareholders benefit accordingly." Overall, the median CEO salary and bonus paid last year by 200 big U.S. companies fell 8.5 percent to $2.24 million.
Compensation numbers typically get a good going over, but this year the scrutiny is likely to be even more intense, what with the outrage over Wall Street bonuses and such. One other nugget: Irani received financial planning valued at $403,300. That allows him "to keep his complete attention on the company's business and performance," according to a spokesman. Aren't they embarrassed to come up with such an outrageous explanation? No wonder CEOs, as a group, are so despised.