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CEOs Just Had Their Largest Pay Raise in Three Years

April 12, 2017, 7:57 PM UTC

Average compensation for CEOs at some of the largest companies in the U.S. clocked in at $16.6 million last year, up from $15.5 million in 2015, according to a study by executive data firm Equilar.

The study, which looked at figures from the 100 largest corporations by revenue that filed proxy statements covering 2016 before April 1, found the median pay increase for CEOs was 6%, the largest bump since 2013.

Topping the list was Thomas Rutledge, who heads Charter Communications. He received $98 million. In second-place was Nike’s Mark Parker, who brought in $47.6 million. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, who are co-CEOs of Oracle, ranked third and fifth, pulling in $41.1 and $40.9 million, respectively. In fourth place was Disney head Robert Iger, who made $40.1 million.

Executives at the top took a bigger share of the pie this year. In 2015, four of the 10 highest-paid CEOs made more than $30 million in total compensation. Last year, that number doubled to eight.

While one might expect CEO compensation to be tied to performance, that wasn’t always the case. The average total shareholder return for all 100 companies was 11%. Six of the top 10 best-paid CEOs fell below that benchmark, while six of the 10 least-paid CEOs in the study beat it. Disney and Oracle actually had negative shareholder returns of 8% and 6%, respectively, while Nike’s came in just below the average at 10% amid an uncertain retail outlook.

Warren Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, was the lowest paid executive, receiving $488,000 despite the fact that his company brought in the most revenue at $223.6 billion, with a healthy shareholder return of 23%. In fact, Buffett was the only CEO to be paid less than $3 million, though it should be noted he can surely afford to forego a high salary.

Sitting just below Berkshire Hathaway in terms of revenue was Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook saw his pay fall 15% from last year to $8.7 million, placing him 89th on the list.

Next month, Equilar will publish a complete list of CEO compensation at the 200 largest businesses by revenue once all public companies have met the deadline for filing their proxy statements.