Life is good if you are the CEO of a major U.S. company. Odds are you are working long hours and under high stress, but you are also virtually guaranteed tens of millions of dollars for one year’s work.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO pay survey, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was the highest paid new CEO, and the second highest paid CEO overall, with a total annual compensation of $84.3 million in 2014. Michael Fries of Liberty Global was the highest paid CEO on the WSJ list, raking in a total of $112.3 million last year. Oracle’s Larry Ellison was third overall with a total compensation of $67/4 million in 2014.
Nadella done well by investors
New CEO Satya Nadella has been instrumental guiding the software giant through a generational change in his tenure, making mobile the priority and and even embracing free alternatives to Microsoft products.
Of note, Microsoft’s stock has moved up a solid 42% from the day before ex-CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement back in the summer of 2013. Shares of the Redmond, Washington-based firm hit a high of $50.04 just before Thanksgiving last year, their highest point since the turn of the century. The share price has slipped to close to $46 over the last few months.
More on top pay for new CEOS
Tech titan Qualcomm’s Steven Mollenkopf came in second on the list of highest paid new CEOs in 2014, with compensation of $60.7 million and a solid shareholder return of 13.7%. Mollenkopf was also the fourth highest paid CEO overall. Mollenkopf has settled a long-standing Chinese antitrust investigation, overcome the loss of significant business from Samsung, and tangled with activist investor Jana Partners.
Pharma firm Actavis’s Brent Saunders was the third highest-paid new CEO in 2014, earning a total compensation of around $26.6 million for his efforts. The company, which has been on an acquisition spree, produced a 53.2% return for shareholders last year. Analysts note the newly expanded firm is anticipated to have to generate revenues of $23 billion in 2016, with over 30,000 employees and a market capitalization of $128 billion (close to 12 times Actavis’s market cap only 24 months ago)..