The recent recession and ongoing sluggish economy have contributed mightily to ongoing debate about the divide between rich and poor. Growing wage inequality is one of the drivers behind the recent Occupy Wall Street protests that spread across the country and the world.
The richest of the rich have been donned the "1 percent," because of their relative scarcity and their outsized bank accounts. Many protesters feel it is wrong for corporate executives and Wall Street bankers to make so much when others exist on so much less.
And while there have been plenty of names tossed around as representatives of that class, including many of the chief executives of the country's best known corporations, there is one highly paid CEO who's remained out of the limelight -- until now.
As The Daily Beast reports, his name is John Hammergren, CEO of McKesson Corp., a large medical-supply company based in San Francisco. Hammergren pulled down nearly $150 million last year, according to analysis by James Reda, a New York-based compensation consultant.
Hammergren's sizable payout was helped in large measure by the $112 million in accumulated stock options that he cashed out, according to analysis by GMI, a research firm that publishes an annual survey of CEO pay each December. That made Hammergren (pictured above) among the highest paid chief executives last year.
Since taking the reins of McKesson in 1999, after a scandal involving fraud left few top executives standing, Hammergren has raked in $500 million. What's more, should he lose his job due to a change of ownership, GMI analysis shows that he would receive an immediate payout of $469 million.
As the Beast reports, such a large award gives Hammergren a "perverse incentive to see it happen."
It isn't merely money and stock options that makes Hammergren's pay package seem extreme. He also receives a variety of perks, including use of a private jet for both business and personal travel, and a pension plan valued at $125 million.
That last item likely won't sit well with long-term rank-and-file employees of McKesson, who saw their pension plan discontinued in 1997.
Moreover, the riches won't stop flowing after Hammergren retires or even after he dies. Among his lifetime benefits, the Beast notes, are a personal assistant and office, which the company values at more than $200,000 a year, and should Hammergren's wife survive him, she'll continue to draw his salary and also get $2 million in cash -- tax free.
We should all have it so good.
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