Outrageous CEO Severance Payouts

  • Big Bucks for a Job Poorly Done

    CEOs are dropping like flies this year. Just this month, the CEOs of GM, Sara Lee and Hewlett-Packard announced their resignations, though each did so for different reasons. In the case of HP (Stock Quote: HPQ), Mark Hurd was forced to resign after allegedly having an affair with a contractor and subsequently fabricating expense reports to cover up money that had gone to the woman. However, despite these allegations, Hurd, like most CEOs at major U.S. companies, will likely end up with a very generous severance package from the company. Early estimates say he may receive anywhere between $12 million and $40 million. It’s no surprise Americans get frustrated when hearing about CEOs earning more money in an hour than most Americans earn in a year. It’s one thing when a CEO gets paid millions of dollars for a job well done, but the executives on this list made off with incredibly generous severance and retirement packages, even as they failed their companies. Photo Credit: aresauburn
    Tony Hayward, BP
  • Tony Hayward, BP

    BP (Stock Quote: BP) announced last month that Tony Hayward, the company’s unpopular CEO, would step down from his position. Shortly after, insiders began to speculate Hayward would also be granted a massive severance, despite presiding over a company that has caused one of the worst environmental disasters in American history. While there’s no official word on how much he’ll get, estimates put it near $18 million. That should be enough for him to get his life back and then some. Photo Credit: World Economic Forum
    Rick Wagoner, GM
  • Rick Wagoner, GM

    Rick Wagoner was pressured by the Obama administration to resign as part of an effort to restructure the company. When Wagoner left, the company was on the brink of financial ruin, and a month later, GM (Stock Quote: GM) filed for bankruptcy. Even though the company drove itself into a ditch, Wagoner still received a handsome payout. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, GM will pay Wagoner $8.2 million for the first five years of his retirement and $74,030 each year on top of that for as long as he lives. Photo Credit: LadyDragonflyCC-August is Canning Month
    Ken Lewis, Bank of America
  • Ken Lewis, Bank of America

    At the end of last year, Ken Lewis announced that he would retire from his position as CEO of Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC). Lewis presided over the company as it entered into a financial crisis and needed a bailout with billions in taxpayer money. But when it came time to leave, the company rewarded him with $72 million in “stock and other compensation,” on top of $53 million in pension money. Photo Credit: YouTube.com
    Carly Fiorina, HP
  • Carly Fiorina, HP

    If Hewlett-Packard does pay Mark Hurd millions, he won’t be HP’s first failed CEO to make off like a bandit. His predecessor, Carly Fiorina, was forced to resign back in 2005 due to the company’s declining market value. But the company still paid her $21 million in severance and as much as $20 million on top of that in stock options. Who knew failure paid so well? Photo Credit: scriptingnews
    Harry Stonecipher, Boeing
  • Harry Stonecipher, Boeing

    Harry Stonecipher was forced to step down in 2005 due to allegations that he’d had an affair with an executive at the company. Unlike some of the other CEOs on this list, Stonecipher was penalized somewhat for his actions, and had to forfeit $38 million in company stocks. Still, Boeing (Stock Quote: BA) didn’t let him leave completely empty-handed. As part of his severance package, Stonecipher made off with $11 million in stocks plus an annual pension of $681,000 a year. Photo Credit: smaedli
    Hank McKinnell, Pfizer
  • Hank McKinnell, Pfizer

    Hank McKinnell was the CEO of Pfizer (TICKER) for five years, and the company’s stock value suffered throughout his tenure. Imagine how shareholders must have felt in 2006 when McKinnell was pushed out, only to end up with one of the largest severance packages in history. McKinnell received $122 million in retirement money, plus additional compensation worth another $78 million. Not too shabby. Photo Credit: colros
    Martin Sullivan, AIG
  • Martin Sullivan, AIG

    Martin Sullivan took over as CEO in 2005 and served in this position until the middle of 2008 after AIG (Stock Quote: AIG) posted two consecutive quarters of record losses. AIG paid Sullivan a nice severance of $15 million, in addition to $28 million in additional compensation.  Yes, it’s enough to make one’s blood boil to think that any recent CEO of AIG could make off so well, given that the company was ultimately bailed out by taxpayer money. If it’s any consolation, the CEOs who succeeded Sullivan seemed to know better. Robert Willumstad took over Sullivan’s post only to quit a few months later. Because he was unable to improve the company as he’d intended, Willumstad decided to forfeit what would have been a $22 million severance. Similarly, the CEO who succeeded him, Edward Liddy, left without a severance. If only the rest of the CEOs on this list could have followed their example. Then they would have saved the big pay outs for a job that was truly well done. Photo Credit: eflon
    The Highest Paid White House Staffers
  • The Highest Paid White House Staffers

    CEOs may make off with some big paychecks, but some government officials do too. Last year, White House employees earned nearly $40 million in total. Check out this MainStreet article to see which staffers got the biggest slice of the pie. Photo Credit: Wikitravel.org
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