As I walked to catch my train this morning I heard the first comment: "$100 million for the guys running Ford? Are you kidding me?"
I wasn't surprised to hear it since the people who see me on the way to the office often have a comment on what's happening in the auto industry.
And I figured someone would have a thought or two to share about the pay package just announcedfor Ford Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally.
Officially, the Ford board awarded Mulally $56 million (before taxes) in Ford shares and Bill Ford $42.4 million (before taxes) in Ford shares.
Together, it is one of the richest pay packages ever given top executives in the auto industry.
Depends on who you ask. If you ask Ford workers who have seen Mulally steer Ford back from the brink of bankruptcy, they probably won't grouse too much. Nor will we hear much from many Ford investors who have seen Ford shares go from $1.56 to more than $14 a share. Ford dealers? I doubt it. Their dealerships are raking in cash with one of the strongest line-ups around.
So who will blast the Ford board for rewarding Mulally and Ford with tens of millions? Mainly the average American who doesn't follow the company closely. Most will not realize that Bill Ford deferred compensation when the company was losing money. Nor will many of the Ford critics ask themselves this question: where would Ford be if Alan Mulally were never picked to run the company?
Would Ford have survived the auto meltdown?
Would it have climbed back into second place in the U.S. Auto market?
Would Ford have a line-up of cars that is no longer a punch line for the poor souls driving one?
We'll never know. But consider this. Almost every time a company sacks its CEO and starts looking for a new man to run the company, you hear the same thing, "We need to hire an 'Alan Mulally type' who will take us to the top." And for many fortune 500 companies, they would gladly pay $40 or $50 million if they knew the company would rebound as Ford has under Mulally.
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