The woman who broke Detroit’s glass ceiling is now the best-paid executive – male or female – in the domestic auto industry.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who became the maker’s chief executive officer in 2014 and later its chairman, earned $22.6 million last year. That was actually down $6 million compared to hear 2015 compensation, but still $500,000 more than what Ford CEO Mark Fields brought home, according to federal documents filed by the two carmakers.
As for Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, he lagged well behind with compensation of “just” $11.99 million for the year. And while numbers haven’t been released for all the major foreign manufacturers, observers say it’s likely Barra will reign supreme across the industry, as U.S. automakers historically have offered significantly higher compensation than overseas competitors.
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Barra become the first woman to run a major automaker anywhere in the world when she succeeded Dan Akerson as GM CEO in January 2014. In her first year, however, the automaker took some heat because Barra’s compensation lagged well behind the man she replaced, some critics questioning whether the traditional gender pay gap extended all the way up to the executive suite.
Things have gotten better for Barra who, last year, received a $2 million base salary, along with a $6.7 million cash bonus, $13 million in stock awards and $640,000 in other compensation. Those numbers were up a bit from 2015 – but the 2016 package left out new stock options that, the year before, were worth up to $11.2 million, depending upon on how well GM’s stock performs in the coming years.
In reality, the automaker’s performance on Wall Street has been less than impressive over the last few years, GM shares have been trading at about $34.00, with a 52-week high of $38.55 and a low of $27.34. That translates into a market capitalization of just over $51 billion. By comparison, little Tesla is now worth nearly $49 billion, its stock trading as high as $302 a share in recent days. (Tesla passed Ford’s market cap earlier this week.
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But where Tesla has posted losses in all but two quarters since going public, GM has been solidly in the black under Barra. For all of 2016, GM’s net income declined 2.6%, to $9.43 billion, or $6.12 per share. Last year, it earned $9.68 billion. Even with the slight drop, the nation’s largest automaker exceeded Wall Street’s consensus forecast of $6.01 per share.
Barra wasn’t the only senior GM executive to see compensation drop last year. According to federal filings, the top earnings in 2016 were:
• Chief financial officer Chuck Stevens, with earnings of $7.6 million, down from $8.1 million in 2016
• President Dan Ammann, who earned $10.2 million, down from $11.8 million the prior year;
• Executive vice president and global product development director Mark Reuss earned $8.4 million, compared with $10.2 million last year;
• Executive vice president and president of North America Alan Batey earned $6.4 million in 2016. His prior compensation was not released as he was not among GM’s five top earners in 2015.
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