Skip to Content

Herbalife’s CEO Needs More Security Than Donald Trump

Key Speakers At The 2015 Milken ConferenceKey Speakers At The 2015 Milken Conference
Michael Johnson, chief executive officer of Herbalife Ltd., speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills in April 2015.Photograph by Bloomberg — Getty Images

The CEO of Herbalife (HLF) has more security protection than Warren Buffett, Apple CEO Tim Cook and certain presidential candidates including Donald Trump.

Last year, the nutritional supplement company paid $694,069 to protect its chief executive Michael Johnson with home security and monitoring systems, Herbalife disclosed in a proxy filing Monday.

That eclipses the $167,401 that Donald Trump has spent on his private security detail during his presidential election bid so far, according to campaign finance disclosures. And even if the combative candidate assumes an annual bodyguard budget similar to the increased level of protection he employed last quarter, when his security expenses doubled to $99,634 for the three-month period (during which he was also granted Secret Service protection), he still wouldn’t be paying as much for safety as Johnson.

Indeed, the median amount that a Fortune 100 company spends on CEO security is less than $30,000 per year, according to a recent Equilar study of executive compensation. Herbalife, a $5 billion company that is not even in the Fortune 500, spent more than 23 times as much.

Johnson’s personal protection costs even more than Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) CEO Warren Buffett’s security measures ($370,000 in 2015) and Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook’s security detail ($209,151 last year, according to filings)—combined.

One executive whose safety expenses outweigh Johnson’s is Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos, who received $1.6 million worth in security services from the company in 2014.

In disclosing its C-suite security spending, Herbalife explained that it had detected threats to the company and several of its executives, “specifically Mr. Johnson,” in 2013—the same year that Bill Ackman publicly attacked the company as part of his short-selling campaign to depress the price of its stock. Herbalife consequently installed security systems and monitoring services at the home of Johnson, “who receives a higher level of security which we deem to be appropriate based on the nature and extent of the security threat,” according to the company’s filing.

Meanwhile, Amazon notes in its own disclosure that Bezos’ security budget is “especially reasonable” given that the CEO takes a low salary and does not receive stock compensation. Apple, for its part, explains in a filing earlier this year that while Cook did not request security services, the company deemed it a “reasonable and necessary” measure “given the profile of the company and his role as CEO.”