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10 most overpaid CEOs of S&P 500 companies

Gayatri Vinayak

While Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai is the most overpaid CEO of the S&P 500 Index, receiving a payment of USD 280,621,552 in 2019, at the 24th place is Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, earning USD 42,910,215. This is an excess of USD 27,896,691. The median pay for a Microsoft employee is USD 172,512.

These details revealed in the 7th annual report of ‘100 Most Overpaid CEOs of the S&P500: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel’ by corporate watchdog As You Sow, clearly indicate that despite high levels of unemployment brought on by the pandemic, the world’s top executives continue to make more money.

AsYouSow has used metrics such as the CEO pay, amount of excess money a CEO receives based on company performance, the median worker pay, the ratio of the executive's compensation to that of the company's median employee pay and the number of shareholders who have voted against a CEO's pay package.

According to the report, companies that have overpaid their CEOs have performed significantly worse than those that are not on the list. A number of companies are also “repeat offenders,” – at least nine CEOs have been on the list each and every year since 2015.

Further, the CEOs of these nine companies have been paid a total of USD 2 billion during the last seven years. Out of these, three - the CEOs of Discovery Communications, Walt Disney and Comcast - have received a total of USD 1 billion.

However, the report also states that the level of shareholder opposition to the excess pay, has increased. The number of S&P500 companies where the CEO package failed to get at least 50 per cent votes from institutional fund managers, more than doubled from six companies to 15 companies in the latest list.

The pandemic saw inequalities growing in an already polarised world. While millions of workers at the lower pay level lost their jobs, the world’s executives are earning like never before.

We take a look at the top 10 most overpaid S&P 500 CEOs as per the report: