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In the United States of Inequality, CEOs Get 'Astronomical' Pay

All on Top Ten List of Highest Paid CEOs made at least $100 million.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who tops the Top Ten Highest Paid CEOs 2012 with nearly $2.28 billion in compensation. , C Flanigan/WireImage via TechCrunch/flickr

Amidst growing inequality in the U.S., CEO pay is at "astronomical" levels.

The annual GMI survey released Tuesday looked at the pay of over 2,200 top executives in North America over the past two years and found that average CEO pay increased 8.47 per cent from 2011 to 2012.
But this year's list was "extraordinary," writes Greg Ruel, Senior Research Analyst and author of the report.
"This is the first time in the 11-year history of GMI’s CEO Pay Survey that two CEOs named in the Top Ten List of Highest Paid CEOs earned more than $1 billion in a single year, and the first where all 10 CEOs made at least $100 million," wrote Ruel.
Topping the list of the 10 white males is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who got almost $2.28 billion in compensation.
Kinder Morgan CEO Richard D. Kinder came in second.  While his base salary is only $1, he made over $1.1 billion from restricted stock profits.  The report points out that the increases in CEO compensation in the new analysis "were mainly fueled by the exercise of large blocks of stock options and the vesting of outsized restricted stock grants."
Here is the Top Ten Highest Paid CEOs 2012 (Source: GMI Ratings):

Company Name                CEO                    Total Actual Compensation
Facebook, Inc.           Mark Zuckerberg            $2,278,668,214
Kinder Morgan, Inc.   Richard D. Kinder           $1,116,685,089

Sirius XM Radio Inc.   Mel Karmazin                 $255,355,676

Liberty Media Corp   Gregory B. Maffei            $254,890,638

Apple Inc.                  Timothy D. Cook              $143,828,867
Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc.  Edward W. Stack  $142,052,496

Liberty Interactive Corp   Gregory B. Maffei      $136,450,484
Starbucks Corporation     Howard Schultz        $117,562,601, inc.      Marc Benioff                $109,544,875
Verisk Analytics, Inc.     Frank J. Coyne            $100,432,117

The report notes that the results reflect "a third straight year of significant realized compensation increases for North American CEOs."
"In the more than ten years that GMI has been publishing this report, I've never seen a top ten Highest Paid list that loomed this large," stated Ruel.
"While the companies in this year's list have performed well over the past three and five year periods in terms of shareholder return, generally speaking, it's the sheer size and volume of equity awards granted to these top executives that catapults their total compensation to astronomical levels."
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