Kenneth Chenault, the long-running chief executive at American Express, stands to have made more than $370 million during his years at the helm.
According to a report in the Financial Times, citing data provided to the newspaper by Equilar, the pay consultancy firm, the longest-running CEO for a Dow Jones Industrial Average company will pocket $150 million in stock options and at least $104 million in shares. Chenault will also have earned $24 million in salary, $76 million in yearly bonuses and $16 million in other compensation.
The report noted that Chenault is the 99th highest paid CEO of a publicly traded company. He became CEO in January of 2001 and was appointed chairman three months later. The report noted that the estimated pay figures excluded the realized value of the CEO’s vested stock award before 2006, when Amex was not required to publish that information. It also doesn’t take into account his stock earnings for 2017, which Amex hasn’t yet disclosed.
With competition heating up in the credit card market and particularly for Amex, executive pay has become an issue with investors. It’s particularly the case with the company’s biggest shareholder, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. According to the Financial Times, 27 percent of shareholder votes were cast on a “say on pay” ballot in 2017. The proxy voting firm ISS also raised concerns about executive pay at the payment company.
Still, the report noted that investors who acquired shares of Amex when Chenault was named CEO has seen a 166 percent return. The S&P, however, has generated returns of 181 percent in the same time period. Meanwhile, the financial sector, which dealt with the Great Recession during that time period, has seen 66 percent returns during the same period, noted the report.