Disney CEO's 2009 pay drops 58 percent to $21.6M

AP News
Posted: Dec 23, 2009 8:31 PM

Robert Iger, Walt Disney Co.'s chief executive, absorbed a 58 percent compensation cut in 2009, brought on by the entertainment company's struggles during the worst recession in more than 70 years.

The Associated Press valued Iger's pay package for the company's fiscal 2009 at $21.6 million, based on a breakdown provided in a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That was down from $51.1 million in fiscal 2008.

Iger's wallet took an even bigger hit during the fiscal year ending Oct. 3 than Disney's shareholders. The Burbank company's stock fell by 15 percent during fiscal 2009, although the shares have since rallied almost all the way back to where they were at the end of fiscal 2008. The stock added 12 cents to finish Wednesday at $32.43.

Disney's financial performance suffered in fiscal 2009 as the Great Recession crimped attendance at the company's amusement parks and reduced advertising on its television networks, which include ABC and ESPN. Its 2009 revenue fell 4 percent to $36.1 billion, while earnings sagged 25 percent to $3.3 billion.

Nearly half of Iger's 2009 compensation came in the form of stock awards designed to give him an incentive to boost the company's future performance.

Disney valued the stock incentives at $9.5 million at the time they were given, but they could be worth much more or less depending on how the company's stock fares. In fiscal 2008, Iger's stock awards were valued at $34.5 million.

The large gap between Iger's stock-based compensation in the past two years accounted for the bulk of his compensation decrease in fiscal 2009.

Iger partially offset his reduced 2009 pay by reaping $9.7 million from exercising 457,289 stock options that he accumulated in previous years.

The Associated Press values executive compensation packages based salary, bonuses, perquisites, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations frequently differ from the totals listed by the reporting companies in the summary compensation table of proxy statements because those figures include accounting charges from the previous fiscal year.

Disney's proxy pegs Iger's 2009 compensation at $29 million.

Besides stock awards, most of Iger's remaining pay consisted of a $2.04 million salary and $9.3 million in performance-based bonuses. Both those amounts were down from fiscal 2008 when Iger pocketed a $2 million salary and $13.9 million in performance-based bonuses.

Iger got perquisites totaling $741,601 in fiscal 2009, a decline of about $32,000 from the previous year. Security costs of $589,102 represented the biggest part of the 2009 perks, followed by a $132,374 bill for Iger's personal air travel.

Disney could have paid Iger a 2009 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the company limited the payout to reflect the tough year, according to the proxy.

The board still praised Iger in the proxy for his "rapid response to exceptionally challenging economic conditions" and applauded his handling of negotiations that culminated in Disney's August agreement to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion.

Iger's current contract with Disney runs through January 2013.