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April 04, 2005
CEOs See Big Gains in Compensation

Median chief executive officer compensation grew by 25 percent at large companies from 2003 to 2004, according to a USA Today analysis.

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The newspaper looked at 100 of the largest public companies filing annual proxies through March 25 and found that chief executives saw big increases in bonuses and restricted stock grants. The median chief executive bonus was $2.3 million in 2004, up 25 percent from 2003. The median restricted stock award was $4 million, up 33 percent from 2003. The median CEO salary was $1.1 million, up 5 percent.

Despite more scrutiny of CEO pay and tighter regulations in the wake of recent corporate scandals, many chief executives are seeing their compensation packages grow at a much faster pace than rank-and-file employees, the newspaper notes.

While many companies have linked executives' compensation with performance, there continues to be pressure for bigger compensation packages.

"There's still a culture that says any sort of positive performance has to be met with a significant increase in pay," says Pat McGurn of proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services. "It's become an executive entitlement system."

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