According to a proxy statement, Disney paid Iger $3 million in base salary, nearly $30 million in stock and option awards and another $21.8 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation. The 2018 package reflected a one-time incentive that was awarded to Iger after he agreed to stay on as company chief past the date when he had initially announced he would retire.
No other executive got close to Iger’s level in 2019, with CFO Christine McCarthy coming in No. 2 with a total package of just shy of $15 million, up from $11.8 million in 2018.
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The amount of Iger’s pay — and that of other corporate CEOs — has generated criticism in recent years. Disney heiress Abigail Disney, grand-daughter of Roy O. Disney, co-founder of the company, labeled his 2018 compensation “insane.” Politicians like Bernie Sanders have decried the income inequality between CEOs and the average worker at top companies, including Disney. Disney has countered by pointing out its investment of $150 million in an education program designed for many of the company’s 223,000 employees.
The issue of compensation surfaced in several publicity interviews Iger did last fall to promote his memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime. Speaking to Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Iger didn’t address his own pay but said the company is “trying really hard to find solutions to the challenges and the problems that our employees are facing today.”
On Wall Street, Iger’s stewardship of the company has been an unalloyed success, pushing the company’s stock to record levels in recent months as it launched streaming service Disney+. Iger has transformed the company through several landscape-altering acquisitions, including the $71.3 billion deal to take over most of 21st Century Fox.
In the proxy filing, Disney said its 2020 annual meeting of shareholders will be held on March 11 in Raleigh, NC. The primary business of the meeting will be electing new members to the board of directors.
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