|By Bob Weaver|
While Lee Raymond, the Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil will not struggle to fill up his gas tank with his compensation package estimated at about $81-million a year, other executives with the company are doing quite well, let alone investors.
As American's struggle to fill their gas tanks, Exxon Mobil announced an annual profit of $36 billion, a record profit for any US corporation in the country's history.
Boston-based NorthStar Asset Management Inc., which describes itself as a socially responsible investor in Exxon Mobil, has paid out "exorbitant compensation" to its executives.
"We were surprised a company like Exxon Mobil, who has always prided itself on the bottom line numbers, would ever allow CEO compensation to go so high," said Julie Goodridge, president of the investment firm.
When Raymond's pay package was disclosed, Exxon Mobil's board said it was appropriate compared to those of CEOs at other U.S. oil companies and major corporations.
Corporate profits were defended. "I would hope the capitalist system would promote and applaud the hard work of companies that have been smart and lucky to achieve good earnings for shareholders," said Tina Vital, of Standard and Poors.
The salaries of major US corporations have been rising about 50% annually during the past five years, as wages for American workers have remained stagnant, many of which have had their health and retirement benefits cut.
Corporate executive salaries, which are generally not disclosed, came to the front when it was revealed that the president of the New York Stock Exchange was being compensated at a reported $300 million annually, which included early pension payouts and estimated interest earned on those payouts from 1995 through 2003, as well as the $240,000-a-year secretary, two $130,000-a-year drivers, access to a private plane, and club memberships.
Washington is toying with the idea that major corporations have to disclose their officer's salaries.
ConoPhillips said their annual income climbed 66%.