GM CEO's compensation jumps 64 percent in 2007

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp GM.N Chief Executive Rick Wagoner's salary and other compensation rose 64 percent in 2007 to about $15.7 million, mainly due to option grants, according to a proxy filed on Friday.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner addresses a news conference during the first media day of the 78th Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo in Geneva March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The GM compensation committee cited significant progress over the past few years in reducing the automaker’s health care cost burden, increasing growth internationally and improvements in its cars and trucks in the 2007 awards to executives.

Wagoner’s compensation rose from about $9.57 million in 2006. The figure was arrived at based on Wagoner’s salary, all other compensation and the basis of annual grants.

GM paid Wagoner a salary of $1.6 million in 2007, along with $1.8 million in non-equity incentive compensation and nearly $700,000 for other compensation that includes insurance benefits, security, aircraft expenses and other factors.

GM, which reported a record $39 billion net loss in 2007, released the figures in a proxy statement on Friday afternoon that was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The automaker, which has been restructuring, reached a contract in 2007 with the United Auto Workers that has permitted buyouts for its UAW hourly workers, a second-tier wage for new hires and a plan that will push billions of health care obligations into a union-aligned trust.

Wagoner had accepted a reduced base salary in 2006 and 2007 and only about 16 percent of his compensation is guaranteed. In March, GM granted Wagoner a raise to $2.2 million per year, restoring his salary to 2006 levels.

Fritz Henderson, who was promoted to president and chief operating officer in March, received compensation of about $9.3 million in 2007, up from about $5.1 million in 2006.

Henderson’s salary was raised to $1.8 million from $1.3 million in March with his appointment as president and COO, the No. 2 position to Wagoner.

Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s compensation rose to about $9 million in 2007, from about $5.1 million in 2006. The product chief’s salary was raised to $1.75 million, from $1.3 million.

The issue of executive compensation in the struggling U.S. auto industry has become something of a hot-button issue because of the United Auto Workers union.

A report earlier in April that Ford Motor Co F.N Chief Executive Alan Mulally had earned more than $22 million in 2007, drew a sharp rebuke from the UAW as excessive, given concessions UAW members had agreed to in the 2007 contract.

Ford, which posted a $2.7 billion loss in 2007, reported a first quarter profit on Thursday that surprised analysts.

GM and other major automakers have been hit by a slowing in the U.S. economy and rising fuel costs that have driven a major shift in consumer preferences toward cars and crossovers and away from large sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

GM also said E. Neville Isdell, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Co KO.N, has been nominated to GM's board. He would join the board August 6 if elected at GM's annual meeting in Delaware on June 3.

Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Andre Grenon and Carol Bishopric