General Motors CEO says U.S. rules keep pay too low

6:53 PM, Apr 27, 2012   |    comments
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By Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY and Detroit Free Press

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson got total compensation of $7.7 million in 2011, according GM's proxy filed with the government this week, and GM took the opportunity also to complain in the proxy that ongoing bailout rules are keeping it from paying executives enough.

Akerson's compensation actually was targeted to be $9 million, but was less because of the decline in GM's stock value. His pay for 2011 included a $1.7 million salary and stock awards valued at $5.95 million, most of which was stock salary, which is paid in cash.

GM said Akerson's compensation was in the bottom 25% of CEOs at a group of similar global companies such as Ford Motor, Honeywell and Hewlett-Packard. In the proxy, GM argued that the government's ongoing limits on GM compensation put it at a competitive disadvantage.

"Appropriately recognizing and rewarding these key contributors and competing with other large, multinational employers to attract and retain fresh talent with critical skill sets is extremely difficult within the compensation constraints imposed by" the government, GM said.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury froze 2012 pay for Akerson and his counterparts at Ally Financial and AIG at 2011 levels because the government still owns a stake in all three companies.

The government also said the total compensation for GM's top executives would be cut 12%, or $8.8 million, from 2011 to 2012. However, some executives got raises, while others' pay is being cut.

And Akerson wasn't the best-paid GM exec last year. Other top GM executive paydays for 2011, according to the proxy:

The best-paid GM executive in 2011 was Tom Stephens, who just retired as vice chairman and chief technology officer on April 1. His total actual compensation was $8.3 million, up from $5.6 million in 2010.

Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky, viewed as a possible successor to Akerson, got total actual compensation of $5.3 million.

CFO Daniel Ammann got total actual compensation of $3.5 million.

Nick Reilly, who retired April 1 as a GM vice president and president of GM Europe, got total actual compensation of $5.375 million in 2011.

USA TODAY and Detroit Free Press

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