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首席执行官获天价薪酬:迪士尼董事到底是怎么想的?

Erik Sherman 2019年05月28日

鲍伯·艾格的高额薪酬引发了众多质疑:首席执行官到底应该拿多少钱。

如果问迪士尼的首席执行官罗伯特·艾格2018年工作如何,他很可能回答说挺棒。从业务层面迪士尼确实很成功,新推出的流媒体服务反响热烈,股价达到了五年来的高点。另外一件事应该也让他高兴,该公司的委托书公告称,今年艾格的薪酬总计6560万美元,也意味着首席执行官对员工薪酬中位数的比例高达1424:1。

很多人对高薪颇为不满。迪士尼的联合创始人为罗伊和沃尔特·迪斯尼兄弟,两人的孙女或侄孙女阿比盖尔·迪斯尼发表推文称,薪酬比例简直“疯狂”。“为什么不把员工劳动果实多分一些给普通员工,而是由高层占去一大块呢?” 阿比盖尔·迪斯尼写道。2018年股东顾问对高管薪酬的投票时,超过52%的人表示反对。(今年39.9%的人投了反对票,此前该公司将艾格未来的薪酬削减了数千万美元。)

虽然艾格每年想赚到几千万美元的收入肯定要付出巨大努力,但他的薪酬所引发的问题还是让人们不由得想问,首席执行官到底应该赚多少钱,为何公司董事会同意如此巨额的薪酬方案。

薪酬哲学

身为ValueEdge Advisors副主席和公司治理专家的内尔·米诺直接持有迪士尼的部分股份,尽管她对艾格的领导称赞有加,但她在2018年和2019年均投票反对薪酬计划。

“金额太高了,而且结构也不好。”她说。“我认为薪酬与公司其他资产支出一样,应该看投资回报。我一直对为了挽留而支付高薪持有怀疑态度,这应该也是给股票期权的原因。”如果过于重视挽留,就把高薪变成“理所应当”,而不是根据首席执行官的未来业绩预估薪酬。

伦敦商学院的金融学教授亚历克斯·埃德曼斯认为,从长远来看,艾格的薪酬是公平的,因为他为公司带来了长期价值。埃德曼斯认为,批评人士可能扭曲了对薪酬的看法,尤其是在过于关注薪酬比例和工资中位数时。“他们(批评者)的心态是分大饼,把公司当成固定大小的饼,只要分给了首席执行官便牺牲了员工的利益。”他认为应该采取“大饼不断增长的心态”,才能看到附加价值。

“重要的是,如果创造了价值,就一定要确保跟更广阔的世界分享。”埃德曼斯表示。“我认同全员持股的概念。有人说应该把首席执行官的薪酬降下来。我却认为应该把普通员工收入升上去。”阿比盖尔·迪斯尼在推特上称,公司里的许多低收入员工“全职工作,却生活在贫困线以下。”

公司发言人提供了一份声明称,艾格的薪酬是“90%基于绩效”,而且过去十年里公司市值大幅增长,“直接惠及持有股票的数千名名员工。”迪士尼最新公布的年度报告显示员工人数为20.1万名。其中多少人持有股票尚不清楚。

猜测董事会的动机

但迪士尼董事会究竟为何会同意如此巨额的薪酬方案,特别是考虑到68岁的艾格明明接近职业生涯的末尾而不是刚刚开始潜力无限? “说起来比较复杂。” 薪酬顾问公司Farient Advisors的合伙人马克·霍达克表示。他认为董事会赌了一把,赌的是尽管股东可能因为艾格拿高薪很生气,但不会气到在了解艾格的薪酬方案和对普通员工高比例之后就去抛售股票打压股价。

霍达克认为董事会给艾格开出巨额薪酬可能有三个原因。首先是另选他人担任首席执行官的成本。“他们考虑的主要问题可能是,让现任首席执行官继续任职,与寻找稍逊现任人选任职的价值对比。”如果他们找到的新人业绩不如艾格,那么公司损失的价值可能远高于新旧两任的工资差额。

董事会的9名成员组合挺不寻常,艾格是唯一一位来自于迪士尼的代表。其他人都是独立董事,包括4位女性和5位男性。其中有通用汽车董事长兼首席执行官玛丽·巴拉、甲骨文联席首席执行官萨弗拉·凯兹、耐克首席执行官马克·帕克、万事达卡战略增长总裁兼副董事长迈克尔·弗勒曼,以及CVS Health执行副总裁兼CVS Caremark总裁德利卡·莱斯。除了2007年加入董事会的艾格,任职时间最长的董事是私募股权公司凯雷集团的运营主管苏珊·阿诺德。其他成员均于2017年至2019年加入。

第二项考虑可能是首席执行官左右董事会的能力。“当然有可能董事会真心认为,是,他确实值这么多钱。”霍达克说,“但也有可能是由于首席执行官业绩辉煌又长期任职,而对董事会施加巨大影响力。”有时强力的首席执行官确实会为自己争取更高的薪酬,因为做起来并不费力。此外还有薪酬顾问的因素。根据迪士尼最新发布的委托书公告,目前其顾问公司为Frederic W. Cook & Co.。多项研究均发现,聘请薪酬顾问的公司往往给首席执行官的薪酬更高。

第三项潜在因素是董事会没有制定完备的接任计划。如果商业舞台上的演员要谢幕,旁边却没有新人能上场顶住,董事们也许只能被迫提升艾格的薪酬留住他,以免暴露后继无人的尴尬。

不管怎么解释,对一家频频推出大制作的电影公司来说,首席执行官拿高薪的这种行为可不怎么受观众欢迎。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

If you asked Disney CEO Robert Iger how 2018 went at work, he’d probably say great, given the company’s success its businesses, hot reception for the new streaming service, and reached five-year high stock price. Plus, there is the $65.6 million in compensation he received over the year, according to the company’s current proxy statement. The number meant a CEO-to-median employee pay ratio of 1,424 to 1.

The compensation part has not sat well with many. Abigail Disney—granddaughter and grandniece of brothers and co-founders Roy and Walt Disney—called the pay ratio “insane” in a tweet. “What on earth would be wrong with shifting some of the profits—the fruits of these employees’ labor— to some folks other than those at the top?” Disney wrote. In the 2018 shareholder advisory vote on executive compensation, more than 52% disapproved. (This year, 39.9% voted against after the company cut tens of millions in Iger’s future pay.)

But even if Iger must struggle on with still making tens of millions annually, the question of his compensation raises the question of how much CEOs should make and what could compel a company’s board of directors to agree to such a large pay package.

Pay philosophy

Nell Minnow, vice chair of ValueEdge Advisors and corporate governance expert, directly owns some shares of Disney and was one who voted against the pack packages in 2018 and 2019, although she praises Iger’s leadership.

“It’s too much [money] and it’s badly structured,” she said. “I think of pay like any other asset expenditure of a company, with return on investment. I’m always very leery of retention-based pay, and I think that’s how these stock grants are justified.” A focus on retention can turn pay into a ‘given’ rather than an amount that is predicated on the CEO further improving company performance.

Alex Edmans, professor of finance at the London Business School, thought that in the long view, Iger’s compensation is fair because of the long-term value he’s brought to the company. Edmans thinks that critics may have twisted view of compensation, especially when they focus on pay ratios and median salaries. “They are based on the pie-splitting mentality, that the firm is a fixed pie and anything that goes to the CEO is at the expense of workers,” Edmans said. Instead, he looks at the “pie-growing mentality,” where there is additional value.

“The important thing is if you create value, what is critical is to make sure that the value is shared with the wider world,” Edmans said. “I’m a fan of giving shares to all the employees. Some say let’s bring the CEO down. I’d rather bring the workers up.” Abigail Disney claimed on Twitter that many of the lowest-paid employees of the company “worked full time and yet we’re living at or below the poverty line.”

A company spokesperson provided a statement that said Iger’s compensation was “90% performance-based” and that the company’s market capitalization has grown significantly over the last ten years, “all of which directly benefits literally thousands of employees who hold our stock.” The latest Disney annual report lists a total of 201,000 employees. It isn’t clear how many own stock.

Guessing the board’s motives

But how or why would Disney’s board agree to such a package, especially given that the 68-year old Iger is closer to the end of his career than the start? “This is a tricky thing,” said Marc Hodak, a partner at compensation consultancy Farient Advisors. He thinks the board took the gamble that shareholders, though they might be miffed by Iger’s pay, would not be upset enough to sell and push the stock price down over Iger’s compensation or the pay ratio.

Hodak sees three possible reasons the board gave Iger such a huge package. The first is the cost of having someone else as CEO. “The primary thing that they’re probably considering is the value of having their CEO in that chair versus the next best person they can get in that chair,” Hodak said. If the next best person they could hire as CEO would be less effective than Iger, the loss in value of the company could dwarf the pay difference.

The makeup of the board is unusual in that of the nine members, Iger is the only one from Disney. The remaining are independent, with four women and five men. The directors include Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors; Safra Katz, a co-CEO of Oracle; Mark Parker, CEO of Nike; Michael Froman, vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard; and Derica Rice, executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Caremark. Outside of Iger, the longest-serving director, having joined the board in 2007, is Susan Arnold, an operating executive of equity investment firm The Carlyle Group. All the other members were appointed between 2017 to 2019.

A second issue might be the power of a CEO over a board. “It’s possible that the board is making an honest judgment of yes, that’s what he’s worth,” Hodak said. “And it’s possible that the board is rolled over by virtue of the power of his success and tenure.” A powerful CEO will sometimes negotiate for more just because he or she can. Additionally, there are the compensation consultants. Disney uses Frederic W. Cook & Co., according to the latest Disney proxy statement. Multiple studies have found that companies using a compensation consultant tend to have higher CEO pay.

The third potential dynamic would be that the board doesn’t have a strong succession plan. If there isn’t a next choice ready at the wings of the business stage, the directors might have felt forced to bid up Iger’s pay to keep him in place and mask their lack of preparation.

Regardless, for a company that produces blockbusters, this one did not go over well with the audience.

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