10 Huge Paydays for the Hired and Fired

by Alyssa Oursler | July 23, 2012 12:40 pm

Dow Leaderboard[1]Lots of big names at big companies take home big bucks, and some even get killer paychecks just for walking through the door — whether on the way in or on the way out.

The most obvious of all giant paydays is, of course, Tim Cook. The king of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[2]) took the title of highest-paid CEO[3] when he took over for the late Steve Jobs last September.

The majority of his pay package came in the form of shares of AAPL stock. While they came with restrictions — he can sell half in 2016 and can’t sell the other half until 2021 — I doubt Cook is complaining. Shares have soared around 50% since he took over the company, and many investors think Apple still has a bright future[4].

Here’s a look at the other names that round out this 10-person sample of CEOs who cashed in big-time in the past year — either by getting a fresh start or getting kicked to the curb:


Marissa Mayer, Yahoo — $59 million: It’s been all over the news lately — expectant mother and new head of Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO[5]) is bringing home the big bucks[6]: at least $59 million. The total comes from pay of $1 million annually, plus eligibility for a $2 million bonus and $12 million in restricted stock and stock options. She’ll also be compensated for what she would have received at Google — restricted stock valued around $14 million — and could get an award of $30 million if she stays at the company for five years.

Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney — $53 million: For just taking the reins at struggling retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP[7]) last November, Ron Johnson received a pay package totaling upward of $53 million[8] — a base salary of $375,000 and $52.7 million in stock awards. JCP isn’t exactly on solid ground[9] right now, but that might not matter when it comes to executive compensation. After all, Johnson pulled aboard Michael Francis, who got a $12 million signing bonus and walked away with double-digit millions even after leaving less than a year later.

Scott Thompson, Yahoo — $27 million: Yahoo’s previous CEO makes the cut as well, even though he didn’t last thanks to the company’s recent change of heart. He got the same base salary and bonuses as Mayer — $27 million — but didn’t get all the other incentives his heir was blessed with.

Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard — $17 million: The recently appointed leading lady at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ[10]) fared pretty well, too; she nabbed a $17 million pay package. Hers came with some fine print[11], though: She would only end up getting that amount if the stock price saw some upward mobility. Considering HPQ is down more than 50% in the past 12 months, 30% year-to-date and — most importantly, down about 25% since Whitman took the helm — that stipulation doesn’t look good. You can find her near the bottom of InvestorPlace‘s Dow Leaderboard[12].


Gene Isenberg, Nabors Industries — $126 million: Isenberg was due to receive $126 million from Nabors Industries (NYSE:NBR[13]) when a new chief executive took over last year, and we know for certain that he at least received $100 million[14] of that. Plus, he retained a position as chairman! Apparently, though, Isenberg wasn’t satisfied. He had been expecting severance of $264 million[15].

Douglas Foshee, El Paso — $95 million: When energy firm Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE:KMI[16]) acquired Foshee’s El Paso, the chief executive was ushered out the door … then sprinted to the bank. The ousted leader got just under $100 million[17] upon his post-merger exit.

Craig Dubow, Gannett — $32 million: The now-former CEO of Gannett (NYSE:GCI[18]) was forced to resign because of chronic health problems last October. Hopefully the $32 million — $12.8 million in retirement benefits, $6.2 million in disability benefits and a $5.9 million severance payment — he received on the way out[19] made him feel a little bit better.

Leo Apotheker, Hewlett-Packard — $25 million: Meg Whitman’s entrance didn’t just mean a nice payday for Whitman — it meant an even heftier one for the guy she replaced. Apotheker took home $25 million[20] after being axed by the tech company. That total came from $7.2 million cash severance and $18 million in stocks, and came after he took home a $1.2 million annual salary, his $4 million signing bonus, and an additional $4.6 million awarded for payments forfeited from his previous employer and relocation assistance. All for less than a year on the job.

Janet Robinson, The New York Times Co. — $23 million: When Janet Robinson was fired from her post at The New York Times Co. (NYSE:NYT[21]) last December, she didn’t fare too poorly, either — her pay package totaled $23.7 million[22] between stock options, retirement benefits, consulting fees and performance awards.

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. [Image]: https://investorplace.com/dow-leaderboard/
  2. AAPL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AAPL
  3. took the title of highest-paid CEO: https://investorplace.com/2012/05/5-highest-paid-ceos-in-america/
  4. many investors think Apple still has a bright future: https://investorplace.com/2012/07/5-stocks-over-300-and-worth-every-penny/
  5. YHOO: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=YHOO
  6. bringing home the big bucks: https://investorplace.com/2012/07/mayers-new-job-as-yahoos-ceo-is-worth/
  7. JCP: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=JCP
  8. totaling upward of $53 million: https://investorplace.com/2012/06/dumb-and-dumber-high-priced-headhunter-hires/
  9. JCP isn’t exactly on solid ground: https://investorplace.com/2012/07/jcpenney-jcp-slippery-slope-shows-no-sign-of-slowing/
  10. HPQ: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=HPQ
  11. came with some fine print: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/6/2775079/hp-ceo-meg-whitman-16-5-million-pay-package
  12. Dow Leaderboard: https://investorplace.com/dow-leaderboard/
  13. NBR: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=NBR
  14. received $100 million: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204528204577007932167790556.html
  15. expecting severance of $264 million: http://www.thejanedough.com/isenberg-nabors-severance/
  16. KMI: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=KMI
  17. got just under $100 million: http://www.thejanedough.com/doug-foshee-leaving-el-paso/
  18. GCI: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=GCI
  19. he received on the way out: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-03/D9TIGF700.htm
  20. took home $25 million: http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/22/technology/hp_leo_apotheker_severance/index.htm
  21. NYT: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=NYT
  22. her pay package totaled $23.7 million: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-09/new-york-times-s-robinson-s-exit-package-tops-23-million.html

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