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Highest-Paid CEOs at the Largest Fortune Global Companies


August 17, 2016

According to the latest Equilar report, CEOs at the largest U.S. companies by far outpace their counterparts in other global markets in terms of compensation. The study—which looked at the 50 largest U.S. companies and 50 largest non-U.S. companies on the Fortune Global 500 list, as measured by revenue—found that U.S. CEOs were awarded a median $14.9 million in total reported compensation in fiscal year 2015, compared to $5.3 million for the non-U.S. companies on the list.

Indeed, 14 of the top 15 highest-paid CEOs in the study were based in the U.S., and coincidentally, the only CEO based outside of the U.S. was Robert Dudley of BP, who received poor support in the company’s shareholder vote on executive compensation.

Highest-Paid CEOs at the Largest Fortune Global Companies

company / executive 2015 Total Reported Compensation (MM)
General Motors Co.
Mary T. Barra
$28.6
Comcast Corp.
Brian L. Roberts
$27.5
General Electric Co.
Jeffrey R. Immelt
$26.6
Exxon Mobil Corp.
Rex W. Tillerson
$24.3
McKesson Corp.
John H. Hammergren
$23.6
CVS Health Corp.
Larry J. Merlo
$22.9
AT&T, Inc.
Randall L. Stephenson
$22.4
PepsiCo, Inc.
Idra K. Nooyi
$22.2
Dow Chemical Co.
Andrew N. Liveris
$21.4
Johnson & Johnson
Alex Gorsky
$21.0
International Business Machines Corp.
Virginia M. Rometty
$19.8
BP plc
Robert W. Dudley
$19.7
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
C. Douglas McMillon
$19.4
Wells Fargo & Co.
John G. Stumpf
$19.3
Chevron Corp.
John S. Watson
$19.2

It is worth noting that in the U.S., compensation practices have evolved to heavily favor equity, displayed by the fact that more than 60% of the average pay mix for U.S. CEOs in the study came from either stock or options, with the inverse being true for companies based outside the U.S. Median salary was relatively even for companies across the study.

Pay had little relationship to revenue rank on the Fortune list, though tenure appeared to be more closely correlated. Mary Barra of GM, the highest-paid executive on the list, has been in her position just over two years; however, the next four highest-paid CEOs have all been in their positions at least 10 years (the median tenure for CEOs in the Equilar study was four years), and seven of the top 10 CEOs have been in place more than a decade.

While generally there was poor female representation across the study—four out of the 100 CEOs, all of whom lead U.S.-based companies—three of those women were among the top 15 highest-paid.

company / executive Fortune Global Revenue Rank Gender CEO Start Date
General Motors Co.
Mary T. Barra
21 F 1/15/14
Comcast Corp.
Brian L. Roberts
135 M 11/1/02
General Electric Co.
Jeffrey R. Immelt
24 M 1/1/01
Exxon Mobil Corp.
Rex W. Tillerson
5 M 1/1/06
McKesson Corp.
John H. Hammergren
16 M 7/1/99
CVS Health Corp.
Larry J. Merlo
30 M 3/1/11
AT&T, Inc.
Randall L. Stephenson
33 M 6/4/07
PepsiCo, Inc.
Idra K. Nooyi
141 F 10/1/06
Dow Chemical Co.
Andrew N. Liveris
169 M 11/1/04
Johnson & Johnson
Alex Gorsky
118 M 4/26/12
International Business Machines Corp.
Virginia M. Rometty
82 F 1/1/12
BP plc
Robert W. Dudley
6 M 10/1/10
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
C. Douglas McMillon
1 M 2/1/14
Wells Fargo & Co.
John G. Stumpf
90 M 6/26/07
Chevron Corp.
John S. Watson
12 M 12/31/09

To request the full report Global CEO Pay Trends 2016, click here.


For more information on Equilar’s research and data analysis, please contact Dan Marcec, Director of Content & Marketing Communications at dmarcec@equilar.com.

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