Apple's Tim Cook tops 2016 CEO earnings list

Mr Tim Cook

Mr Tim Cook was reported to have taken home a pay cheque of US$8.75 million (S$12 million) last year, which ranked the Apple chief executive officer in the bottom third of all CEOs in the S&P 500.

Mr Cook, 56, actually took home US$145 million, almost all of it from awards granted back in 2011.

He is not the only chief executive officer of a publicly traded United States company to cross the US$100 million threshold for take-home pay, commonly referred to as realised pay.

Mr Reed Hastings, 56, of Netflix, reaped US$106 million last year.

Take-home pay is the sum of the values of stock vested and options exercised during the fiscal year, along with cash from salaries, bonuses and perks.

Companies typically grant equity to executives as incentives each year. Those awards are reported at their target values in the summary compensation tables of annual proxy statements.

But CEOs do not necessarily take ownership of those awards in the year they are given.


  • US$145m

    Mr Tim Cook


  • US$106m

    Mr Reed Hastings


  • US$94m

    Mr Leonard Schleifer

    Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

  • US$86m

    Ms Safra Catz


  • • US$1 is about S$1.38.

A better measure of earnings is the value of options that the CEOs exercised and the shares that were vested during the year.

Those figures can vary significantly from companies' original estimates as stock prices change.

Mr Cook's take-home pay last year came primarily from the vesting of 1.26 million shares, valued at US$136 million, which were awarded after he became Apple's CEO in 2011.

He has now amassed more than US$320 million from vested shares of the 2011 award. His US$145 million total take-home pay for fiscal year 2016 also includes a US$3 million salary, a US$5.37 million cash bonus and US$377,719 in perks.

In a 2015 interview with Fortune magazine, Mr Cook said he plans to donate his fortune to philanthropy.

Netflix's Mr Hastings took home US$106 million, the second-highest last year for S&P 500 chiefs, almost entirely from exercised options that were granted as early as 2006.

Options, which generally can be held for up to a decade, were also given to the heads of tech and biopharmaceutical companies last year. Mr Leonard Schleifer, 64, CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, earned US$90 million from exercising options. His US$94 million in take-home pay ranked him fourth.

Oracle CEO Safra Catz, 55, and's Marc Benioff, 52, collected US$86 million and US$85 million, respectively. Option exercises accounted for more than 90 per cent of their total.

Media chieftains got the most cash. CBS' Leslie Moonves, 67, reaped a US$32 million cash bonus that was the largest since he became CEO in 2006 and accounted for almost 60 per cent of his total take-home pay.

Walt Disney's Bob Iger, 66, got a US$20 million cash as an incentive last year.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'Apple's Tim Cook tops 2016 CEO earnings list'. Print Edition | Subscribe