NEW YORK The average compensation for chief executives at the largest publicly traded U.S. companies fell 15 percent last year to $9.53 million, a decline attributable to the falling value of stock and option awards, the New York Times said on Sunday.
Median compensation fell 13 percent to $7.72 million, the second straight yearly decline, driving pay down to a level not seen since 2004.
It comes amid growing concern among the public, Congress, governance advocates and White House pay czar Kenneth Feinberg about the fairness of out-sized pay, especially at companies that received government aid, as the economy emerges unevenly from the worst recession since the 1930s.
Lawrence Ellison, the chief executive of business software company Oracle Corp ORCL.O -- and the world's sixth-richest person, at $28 billion, according to Forbes magazine -- topped the list with compensation of $84.5 million, more than the next two highest-paid chief executives combined.
The findings were based on a report by Equilar, which evaluated compensation for 200 chief executives at 199 companies that had revenue of at least $5.78 billion. Motorola Inc MOT.N, one of those companies, has two chief executives.
Other highly-compensated executives in the study included Boston Scientific Corp's (BSX.N) Ray Elliott with pay of $33.37 million, Occidental Petroleum Corp's (OXY.N) Ray Irani with $31.4 million, Hewlett-Packard Co's (HPQ.N) Mark Hurd with $24.2 million, Anadarko Petroleum Corp's (APC.N) James Hackett with $23.51 million, and Procter & Gamble Co's (PG.N) A.G. Lafley with $23.47 million.
The lowest paid was Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) Steven Jobs, at $1, though he also owns $1.03 billion of the company's stock, the newspaper said.
Within the financial services industry, Wells Fargo & Co's (WFC.N) John Stumpf was the best paid chief executive, having been awarded $18.76 million, the study said.
Citigroup Inc's (C.N) Vikram Pandit's compensation was $128,751, making him the third-lowest paid chief executive in the study. Former Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) chief Kenneth Lewis was second-lowest at $32,171, while Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) was seventh-lowest at $862,657.
The median values of stock and option awards fell a respective 19 percent and 28 percent, reflecting the fact that many were granted in early 2009 when stock prices were low, the newspaper said. Perks such as private jets also fell, with the median down 19 percent to $170,487 and the average down 14 percent to $261,801, the newspaper said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)