The $65 Million Perk for CEOs: Personal Use of the Corporate Jet Has Soared
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,613,207 (-0.60%)       Melbourne $969,484 (-0.54%)       Brisbane $991,125 (-0.15%)       Adelaide $906,278 (+1.12%)       Perth $892,773 (+0.03%)       Hobart $726,294 (-0.04%)       Darwin $657,141 (-1.18%)       Canberra $1,003,818 (-0.83%)       National $1,045,092 (-0.37%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $754,460 (+0.43%)       Melbourne $495,941 (+0.11%)       Brisbane $587,365 (+0.63%)       Adelaide $442,425 (-2.43%)       Perth $461,417 (+0.53%)       Hobart $511,031 (+0.36%)       Darwin $373,250 (+2.98%)       Canberra $492,184 (-1.10%)       National $537,029 (+0.15%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,787 (-116)       Melbourne 14,236 (+55)       Brisbane 8,139 (+64)       Adelaide 2,166 (-18)       Perth 5,782 (+59)       Hobart 1,221 (+5)       Darwin 279 (+4)       Canberra 924 (+36)       National 42,534 (+89)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,638 (-81)       Melbourne 8,327 (-30)       Brisbane 1,728 (-19)       Adelaide 415 (+10)       Perth 1,444 (+2)       Hobart 201 (-10)       Darwin 392 (-7)       Canberra 1,004 (-14)       National 22,149 (-149)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 (+$20)       Melbourne $620 ($0)       Brisbane $630 (-$5)       Adelaide $615 (+$5)       Perth $675 ($0)       Hobart $560 (+$10)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $670 (+$4)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 ($0)       Melbourne $590 (-$5)       Brisbane $630 (+$5)       Adelaide $505 (-$5)       Perth $620 (-$10)       Hobart $460 (-$10)       Darwin $580 (+$20)       Canberra $550 ($0)       National $597 (-$)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,197 (+313)       Melbourne 6,580 (-5)       Brisbane 4,403 (-85)       Adelaide 1,545 (-44)       Perth 2,951 (+71)       Hobart 398 (-13)       Darwin 97 (+4)       Canberra 643 (+11)       National 22,814 (+252)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,884 (-22)       Melbourne 6,312 (0)       Brisbane 2,285 (-54)       Adelaide 357 (-14)       Perth 783 (-14)       Hobart 129 (-14)       Darwin 132 (+6)       Canberra 831 (+15)       National 21,713 (-97)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.64% (↑)      Melbourne 3.33% (↑)        Brisbane 3.31% (↓)       Adelaide 3.53% (↓)       Perth 3.93% (↓)     Hobart 4.01% (↑)      Darwin 5.54% (↑)      Canberra 3.52% (↑)      National 3.34% (↑)             UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.17% (↓)       Melbourne 6.19% (↓)     Brisbane 5.58% (↑)      Adelaide 5.94% (↑)        Perth 6.99% (↓)       Hobart 4.68% (↓)     Darwin 8.08% (↑)      Canberra 5.81% (↑)        National 5.78% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.8% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.0% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.1% (↑)      Brisbane 1.0% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.5% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.7% (↑)      Canberra 1.4% (↑)      National 1.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 29.8 (↓)     Melbourne 31.7 (↑)      Brisbane 30.6 (↑)        Adelaide 25.2 (↓)       Perth 35.2 (↓)     Hobart 35.1 (↑)      Darwin 44.2 (↑)        Canberra 31.5 (↓)     National 32.9 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 29.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.5 (↓)     Brisbane 27.8 (↑)        Adelaide 22.8 (↓)     Perth 38.4 (↑)        Hobart 37.5 (↓)       Darwin 37.3 (↓)       Canberra 40.5 (↓)       National 33.1 (↓)           
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The $65 Million Perk for CEOs: Personal Use of the Corporate Jet Has Soared

Company spending on the benefit has climbed 50% since before the pandemic

By THEO FRANCIS
Wed, Jan 17, 2024 8:39amGrey Clock 5 min

One of the flashiest executive perks has roared back since the onset of the pandemic: free personal travel on the company jet.

Companies in the S&P 500 spent $65 million for executives to use corporate jets for personal travel in 2022, up about 50% from prepandemic levelsthree years earlier, a Wall Street Journal analysis found. Early signs suggest the trend continued last year.

Overall, the number of big companies providing the perk rose about 14% since 2019, to 216 in 2022, figures from executive-data firmEquilar show. The number of executives receiving free flights grew nearly 25%, to 427.

Most companies report executive pay and perks in the spring.

Meta Platforms spent $6.6 million in 2022 on personal flights for Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and his then-lieutenant, Sheryl Sandberg—up about 55% from 2019, the Journal found. Casino company Las Vegas Sands spent $3.2 million on flights for four executives, more than double its annual expense in any year since 2015. Exelon, which owns Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison utility, more than tripled its spending on the perk since 2019.

Company jets have long symbolised corporate success and, to critics, excess. Companies typically say flying corporate is safer, healthier and more efficient. Some companies—including Cardinal Health, Raymond James Financial and Hormel Foods—added or expanded the perk in 2020 or 2021, citing pandemic health and safety concerns. Most spending growth came at companies already paying for personal flights in 2019.

Palo Alto Networks began subsidising personal flights for CEO Nikesh Arora in the year ended July 2022, spending about $650,000. That total rose to $1.8 million in its most recent fiscal year, plus a further $286,000 to cover his tax bill for the perk, the cybersecurity company said in an October securities filing.

The company said in filings that its board requires Arora to fly corporate in response to a security consultant’s report. “There was a bona fide, business-related security concern for Mr. Arora and credible threat actors existed with both the willingness and resources necessary for conducting an attack on Mr. Arora,” it said.

Companies report spending on flights they can’t classify as business-related, including trips to board meetings for other companies or commuting from distant residences. Some give executives a fixed personal-flight allowance in hours or dollars, and require reimbursement beyond that.

The sums have little financial impact on most giant corporations, even when annual flight bills exceed a million dollars. Critics say the free flights indicate directors too eager to please top executives.

“The vast majority of S&P 500 companies do not offer this perk,” said Rosanna Landis Weaver, an executive-pay analyst at As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder-advocacy group that has produced annual lists of CEOs it considers overpaid.

The Journal’s analysis reflects what companies disclose in securities filings, typically in footnotes to annual proxy statements. Federal rules generally require companies to itemize the perk for each top executive if it costs the company $25,000 or more in a year.

PepsiCo spent $776,000 on personal flights for five executives in 2022, double what it paid for the perk in 2019. Two-thirds of the spending subsidized flights by CEO Ramon Laguarta, who is required to use company aircraft for personal flights for safety and efficiency reasons. In an interview last spring, Laguarta said he sometimes ended business trips to Europe by flying to visit his mother in his native Barcelona. She died later in the year, in her 90s.

A PepsiCo spokesman said the company jet allows executives to reach remote facilities.

Personal jet use can draw investor and regulatory scrutiny. It contributed to the ouster of Credit Suisse’s chairman in 2022.

In June, tool maker Stanley Black & Decker settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it failed to disclose $1.3 million in perks for four executives and a director, mostly their use of company aircraft, from 2017 through 2020. In 2020, Hilton Worldwide Holdings settled SEC charges that it didn’t disclose $1.7 million in perks over four years, in part by underreporting costs for CEO Christopher Nassetta’s personal flights by 87%in two of those years. Hilton paid a $600,000 penalty.

Both companies settled without admitting or denying wrongdoing.

Stanley Black & Decker said it raised the errors with the SEC and settled without a fine. In 2022, Stanley Black & Decker reported spending nearly $143,500 on personal flights for former CEO James Loree and his successor, Donald Allan Jr., primarily to fly to outside board meetings or from second homes to work.

Hilton cited higher fuel prices in reporting about $500,000 in flights for Nassetta in 2022.

Spending on executives’ personal travel outpaced overall growth in business-jet traffic. Takeoffs and landings are up by about 19% since 2019, after dropping sharply in 2020, Federal Aviation Administration data show. Corporate spending on the perk rose 52%, the Journal found.

Higher fuel costs in 2022 contributed to the increase in spending, and there is little indication of a slowdown last year. Of the 15 S&P 500 companies that have reported spending on the perk in fiscal years ended in the second half of 2023, 10 said they increased spending, including three that didn’t report the perk a year earlier, securities filings show.

Sixteen companies that started paying for personal flights during the pandemic have since stopped. An additional 31 continued spending into 2022, with a median of $124,000. Accenture, Palo Alto Networks and concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment reported spending more than $500,000 apiece.

In 2020, Julie Sweet’s first full year as CEO, Accenture capped annual spending for her personal flights at $200,000, then doubled it the next year. Accenture raised the cap to $600,000 in its year that ended Aug. 31, when it spent about $575,000 on Sweet’s personal flights, the company said in a December securities filing.

In its filings, Accenture said it encourages Sweet to use company aircraft for personal travel, citing a security study the company commissioned.

Companies that provided the perk already in 2019 accounted for most of the recent growth in spending, the Journal found.

Meta, for example, spent nearly $11 million on Zuckerberg and Sandberg’s personal flights from 2015 through 2019, and a further $13.3 million over the next three years. Zuckerberg’s company-paid travel included trips on an aircraft he owns, which Meta charters for business, paying $523,000 in 2022. The Facebook owner stopped paying for Sandberg’s personal flights when she stepped down as a company employee in September 2022. She remains on Meta’s board.

Spokesmen for Meta and Sandberg declined to comment beyond Meta’s securities disclosures.

CEOs incurred most of the personal flight spending, making up half the executives receiving the perk in 2022 and two-thirds of the overall cost, Equilar’s data show.

At some companies, other executives are making up a bigger share of the cost. Four Norfolk Southern executive vice presidents accounted for just over half its roughly $370,000 in spending on personal flights in 2022, securities filings show. CEO Alan Shaw accounted for the rest. By contrast, the railroad reported subsidising flights only for then-CEO James Squires in the five years through 2020.

Shaw may take as many as 60 hours of personal flights on company aircraft before reimbursing Norfolk Southern, the company said in its filings. Personal use of company aircraft by executives other than the CEO was infrequent, it added. Norfolk Southern didn’t respond to requests for comment.

—Jennifer Maloney contributed to this article.



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The Top 10 highest paid CEOs of the ASX 200 revealed

Along with pay rates, the latest report from the ACSI shows bonuses are no longer based on exceptional results

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Jul 23, 2024 2 min

The CEOs of the ASX 200 were paid a little less in FY23 compared to the year before, but bonuses appear to have become the norm rather than a reward for outstanding results, according to the Australia Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI). ACSI has released its 23rd annual report documenting the CEOs’ realised pay, which combines base salaries, bonuses and other incentives.

The highest-paid CEO among Australian-domiciled ASX 200 companies in FY23 was Greg Goodman of Goodman Group, with realised pay of $27.34 million. Goodman Group is the ASX 200’s largest real estate investment trust (REIT) with a global portfolio of $80.5 billion in assets. The highest-paid CEO among foreign-domiciled ASX 200 companies was Mick Farrell of ResMed with realised pay of $47.58 million. ResMed manufactures CPAP machines to treat sleep apnoea.

The realised pay for the CEOs of the largest 100 companies by market capitalisation fell marginally from a median of $3.93 million in FY22 to $3.87 million in FY23. This is the lowest median in the 10 years since ACSI began basing its report on realised pay data. The median realised pay for the CEOs of the next largest 100 companies also fell from $2.1million to $1.95 million.

However, 192 of the ASX 200 CEOs took home a bonus, and Ed John, ACSI’s executive manager of stewardship, is concerned that bonuses are becoming “a given”.

“At a time when companies are focused on productivity and performance, it is critical that bonuses are only paid for exceptional outcomes,” Mr John said. He added that boards should set performance thresholds for CEO bonuses at appropriate levels.

ACSI said the slightly lower median realised pay of ASX 200 CEOs indicated greater scrutiny from shareholders was having an impact. There was a record 41 strike votes against executive pay at ASX 300 annual general meetings (AGMs) in 2023. This indicated an increasing number of shareholders were feeling unhappy with the executive pay levels at the companies in which they were invested.

A strike vote means 25 percent or more of shareholders voted against a company’s remuneration report. If a second strike vote is recorded at the next AGM, shareholders can vote to force the directors to stand for re-election.

10 highest-paid ASX 200 CEOs in FY23

1. Mick Farrell, ResMed, $47.58 million*
2. Robert Thomson, News Corporation, $41.53 million*
3. Greg Goodman, Goodman Group, $27.34 million
4. Shemara Wikramanayake, Macquarie Group, $25.32 million
5. Mike Henry, BHP Group, $19.68 million
6. Matt Comyn, Commonwealth Bank, $10.52 million
7. Jakob Stausholm, Rio Tinto, $10.47 million
8. Rob Scott, Wesfarmers, $9.57 million
9. Ron Delia, Amcor, $9.33 million*
10. Colin Goldschmidt, Sonic Healthcare, $8.35 million

Source: ACSI. Foreign-domiciled ASX 200 companies*

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