Amid Huge CEO Pay Hikes, Citigroup Head Gets Chart-Topping Raise

Last year, US CEOs received an 11 percent increase in salary on average, with a 19 percent increase within that leap. And this year, Vikram Pandit, the Citigroup CEO who's been quasi-celebrated for his symbolic $1 annual pay since the financial crisis, raked in a $23.2 million retention package that included tens of millions in stock and over $6 million in cash. The New York Times:

Just three short years ago, Citigroup was in such dire straits that it twice needed to be rescued by the government. With the bank receiving more than $45 billion of federal aid, questions swirled about whether Mr. Pandit would remain at the helm. The large retention award seems to put those questions to rest.

“Vikram has done an outstanding job since coming on board as the financial crisis began,” Richard S. Parsons, Citigroup’s chairman, said in a statement. “This award is designed to retain Vikram as our C.E.O. and reward him for future performance benefiting the company and our shareholders.”

The retention package also could signify the unofficial end of the post-bailout pay era.

The post-bailout pay era, meaning “now that it's been a few years since the government had to save Wall Street from its egregious gambling-style practices, it's okay to start paying our leaders more than kings of small countries.” Recession? What recession! More on Pandit's noble pre-bailout salary:

Mr. Pandit helped avert even more animosity toward his bankers when he pledged at a 2009 Congressional hearing to accept a mere $1 a year in salary until Citigroup turned a profit.

Even so, he continued to benefit from the Citi board’s largess. Throughout the crisis, Mr. Pandit was allowed to hold about $79.7 million in cash from the sale of Old Lane Partners, an investment firm he founded that was acquired by Citi in April 2007. Mr. Pandit would have to forfeit that money if he left the company before July 2011, giving the board a strong incentive to extend the retention package now.

Charming. Read the rest here.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at May 19, 2011, 6:26am

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