Pandemic wreaks havoc on compensation packages for LA’s top CEOs


The global pandemic has impacted the salaries of senior executives in Los Angeles’ diverse business community in 2020.

Of the 50 highest-paid CEOs in Los Angeles last year, 20 returned home with lighter portfolios than the year before, according to the Business Journal’s annual pay list.

The impact has been felt across a variety of industries.

Executives of commercial real estate operators, for example, have been affected by empty offices, deserted malls and food courts and a loss of foot traffic at retail outlets.
Hollywood executives, meanwhile, suffered from a break in production work and locked doors in theaters.

On the flip side, some types of C suites have seen gains thanks to Covid-19.

Streaming services, game companies and e-commerce businesses all appeared to be recording positive results as consumers stayed at home and turned to their screens to watch, play and shop.

Amit Batish, director of content at Equilar Inc., a compensation data company based in Redwood City, said compensation in Los Angeles reflects broader trends.

Batish added that compensation for CEOs of the nation’s top 100 publicly traded companies fell by less than 2% in 2020 – although the cuts are mostly in base salaries rather than long-term bonus-filled packages, d ‘stock options and other performance incentives.

“The incentive side of the pay remained largely intact as they had to keep CEOs in their jobs,” Batish said.

Total indemnities reached $ 672.6 million in 2020, up from $ 562 million in 2019, according to the Business Journal.

Much of that gain was largely due to a CEO.

Robert Kotick of Activision Blizzard Inc., whose Santa Monica-based video game empire had a record year, saw his pay rise to $ 154.6 million, a 413% increase over his payout. from 2019.

Another CEO who benefited from changing consumer habits during the pandemic was Robert Greenberg of Skechers USA Inc. Homebound consumers have switched to casual lifestyle clothing and performance shoes over the course of the year. last year, and the Manhattan Beach-based company was able to answer the call.

Greenberg ranked No. 4 on the Business Journal’s list, with $ 20.3 million in total compensation, up 48% from $ 13.7 million a year earlier.

Take stock

Kevin Murphy, an internationally renowned compensation expert at USC’s Marshall School of Business, said many CEOs have fared better than expected over the past year despite the fact that many have suffered cuts. salary almost immediately after the stock market collapse in March 2020.

“I thought there would be a reset for performance goals (CEOs),” said Murphy, who noted that boards typically set annual goals for bonus plans and metric hurdles for bonus plans. performance at the end of February.

“At the end of the day, big companies have done very well,” he added. “Commercial real estate was hammered and restaurants and hospitality industries struggled, but we found that many businesses were quite resistant to shutdown. When you cut base salaries, you catch them elsewhere. They have issued more stock awards, which are performance-based, ”he added.

The second highest paid CEO in Los Angeles last year was Todd Stevens, director of California Resources Corp, based in Santa Clarita. One of the state’s largest oil producers, the company went bankrupt last summer when it failed to secure a debt restructuring deal with creditors.

Stevens oversaw the company’s exit from bankruptcy in October and a few months later announced he would be leaving California Resources at the end of 2020. He took with him a total compensation of $ 21.5 million. , more than double the $ 10.5 million he received the previous year. .

Stevens is not the only CEO on the Business Journal’s list to have left his post.

Michael Burke stepped down as chairman and CEO of the downtown-based company
AECOM in June 2020. He finished No.7 on the list with a total compensation of $ 17.4 million last year, a 10% increase from the $ 15.9 million he earned in 2019.

The executive who replaced Burke last June, Troy Rudd, longtime AECOM chief financial officer, landed at No.24 on the list with $ 9.3 million in total compensation. That’s a 128% gain from 2019, when Rudd’s salary was $ 4.01 million.

Robert Iger, who abruptly stepped down as CEO of Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. in February 2020 and announced his intention to step down as executive chairman this year, came third on the list.

His total compensation of just over $ 21 million marks a 56% drop from the $ 47.5 million he received the year before. While the Disney Plus streaming service, led by Iger, has been a success, the company has lost billions of dollars during the pandemic due to its theme park closures and movie theaters.

Also missing is Adam Miller, founder of Cornerstone OnDemand Inc., who was replaced as CEO on June 15, 2020, by Phil Saunders, the former CEO of Saba Software.
Cornerstone, the Santa Monica-based cloud software provider, purchased Saba in early 2020.

Miller ranked No.43 on the list with $ 5.3 million in total compensation, down 32% from his package of $ 7.8 million the year before. Saunders, a newcomer to the list, sits 34th with his total compensation of $ 7.7 million.

Another new name on the list is Dan Henry, who has become President and CEO of Green Dot Corp. in March 2020. However, Henry’s time on the list may be limited. In May, the executive announced that the Pasadena-based prepaid debit card issuer is moving its headquarters to Austin, Texas, where it lives.

Henry ranked No. 11 on the list with a total earnings of $ 15.8 million.

Women CEOs in short supply

The only two female CEOs to make the 2020 list will not be returning next year due to individual circumstances.

“There isn’t a critical mass of women already, and all of a sudden in a year, there aren’t any more. It’s really disturbing, ”said Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and founding director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester.

In December, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp. acquired Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. for $ 5 billion in cash. The move means that Aerojet’s president and CEO, Eileen Drake, will no longer lead the El Segundo-based aerospace company when the deal goes through in the second half of this year.

Drake came in at # 21 on this year’s list with total compensation of $ 9.6 million, up 32% from $ 7.3 million the year before.

Therese Tucker, CEO, Executive Chairman and Founder of BlackLine Inc., a Woodland Hills-based enterprise software company, stepped down as CEO on January 1, relinquishing the lead to COO Marc Huffman.

Tucker was No. 27 on the list with $ 8.4 million in total compensation, down 63% from his $ 23 million package in 2019.

Shopping malls, industrial and commercial real estate companies and other real estate-related categories have been hit hard during the pandemic due to workplace restrictions. However, some CEO salaries have been maintained.

Rexford Industrial Realty Inc. stood out. The company operates in fast-growing industrial and warehouse markets throughout Southern California, including the Inland Empire, which has shown few signs of slowing down.

Rexford’s co-CEOs Howard Schwimmer and Michael Frankel had identical salaries of $ 8.3 million in 2020, placing them at No. 29 on the list. Schwimmer and Frankel’s salaries each increased by 39% in 2020.

Thomas O’Hern, CEO of Santa Monica-based mall owner and operator Macerich Co. O’Hern, was also ranked 28th. His compensation of $ 8.4 million in 2020 marked a 21% increase in total compensation from $ 6.9 million the year before. .

O’Hern’s pay increase at Macerich, a real estate investment trust that is the third-largest owner and operator of shopping malls in the United States, came amid store and restaurant closures in malls .

Feel the impact

But the pay of many other executives fell last year.

“California has felt the pandemic pretty badly, and it took a lot of hits on commercial real estate, which is why a lot of these executives have taken a salary hit,” Equilar’s Batish said.
Executives who suffered sharp declines in total compensation included co-CEOs Stephen Richardson and Peter Moglia of Pasadena-based Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc.; John Kilroy Jr., President and CEO of Kilroy Realty Corp .; and Jordan Kaplan, president and CEO of Douglas Emmett Inc., based in Santa Monica.

Richardson and Moglia saw their total compensation drop to $ 8.09 million and $ 8.04 million, respectively, about 2.6% and 2.7% lower than in 2019. The co-CEOs hire office buildings and laboratories to the life science and technology industries in an area that has seen clinical trials slowed by the pandemic. They landed at numbers 32 and 33 on the list.

Kilroy was No.19 on the list with a compensation package of $ 11.9 million, down 1.5% from 2019.

Kaplan was No.26 with a salary of $ 8.5 million, down 10.2% from $ 9.4 million the year before. Douglas Emmett owns several office and apartment buildings in California and Honolulu.

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