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CEOs with 20 Most Exorbitant Golden Parachutes in History

GE's Jack Welch tops list with $400M exit


A recent GMI Ratings Report shows just how rich American CEOs get simply by handing in their resignation. These “golden parachutes” run the gamut – from quite successful execs who deserved some kind of comfortable retirement yet are wildly overpaid, to lackluster personalities in the corner office who hit the jackpot without ever posting dramatic successes.

Take General Electric (NYSE:GE) CEO Jack Welch, who led the company for 20 years. He is widely credited with turning GE into a global conglomerate powerhouse, and the industrial giant saw huge success up until his departure in 2001 (well before the financial crisis). GE stock rose about 3,500% in that period – triple the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

That said, his $417 million payday on retirement seems a bit exorbitant.

Then there’s James M. Kilts, CEO of Gillette Co. who negotiated the sale of the company to consumer products giant Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) in 2005 for $57 billion. Kilts also negotiated himself quite the buyout during the process, a cool $164 million after just four years at the helm of Gillette and leadership that involved selling off the company rather than growing it.

Nice work if you can get it.

In case your curious as to the other mammoth paydays tallied by GMI, here’s the list of 20 biggest golden parachutes in history:

  • John F. Welch Jr.; General Electric (1981-2001) $417,361,902
  • Lee R. Raymond; Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM) (1993-2005) $320,599,861
  • William D. McGuire; UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UHC) (1991-2006) $285,996,009
  • Edward E. Whitacre Jr.; AT&T (NYSE:T) (1990-2007) $230,048,463
  • Robert L. Nardelli; Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD) (2000-2007) $223,290,123
  • John A. Kanas; North Fork Bank, acquired by Capital One (NYSE:COF) (1977-2006) $214,300,000
  • Fred Hassan; Schering-Plough, acquired by (NYSE:MRK)  (2003-2009) $189,352,324
  • Louis V. Gerstner Jr.; IBM (NYSE:IBM) (1993-2002) $189,005,929
  • Hank A. McKinnell Jr.; Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) (2001-2006) $188,329,553
  • Thomas M. Ryan; CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE:CVS) (1998-2011) $185,415,435
  • James M. Kilts; Gillette Co. acquired by Procter and Gamble, (2001-2005) $164,532,192
  • Robert J. Ulrich; Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) (1994-2008) $164,162,612
  • E. Stanley O’Neal; Merrill Lynch & Co. acquired by Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) (2002-2007) $161,500,000
  • Jerry A. Grundhofer; U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) (2001-2006) $159,064,090
  • Joel F. Gemunder; Omnicare, Inc. (NYSE:OCR)(2001-2010) $146,001,476
  • Wallace D. Malone Jr.; Wachovia/South Trust acquired by Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) (1981-2004) $125,292,818
  • George A. L. David; United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) (1994-2008) $122,631,309
  • Margaret C. Whitman; eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) (1998-2008) $120,427,360
  • Leonard Schaeffer; WellPoint Health (NYSE:WLP) (1992-2004) $119,041,000
  • Bob R. Simpson; XTO Energy Inc. acquired by Exxon (1986-2008) $103,485,972

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