Hewlett-Packard’s former CEO Mark Hurd stepped down on Aug 6 after a public relations nightmare involving falsified expense reports and sexual harassment allegations. He didn’t, however, leave empty handed. Hurd is walking away with a severance package worth more than $30 million.
Multi-million dollar parting gifts for CEOs are not uncommon, even when the chief executives leave the company under less-than-pleasant circumstances. CNBC asked executive compensation research firm Equilar to calculate the dollar value of some of the most high-profile golden parachutes.
To get the severance package total, Equilar included the disclosed amounts received by each person including any bonuses paid out as part of the separation agreement. The firm also included the deferred compensation and pension benefits found in the proxy statement. The "stock price change during tenure” figure was calculated by CNBC and has been adjusted for dividend payments.
Click ahead to find out which executives made the grandest exits.
By Brooke Sopelsa
Posted 10 Aug 2010
Severance package: $1.2 billion
Company: UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
Years as CEO: 1991- 2006
Stock price change during tenure: +5,378%
After leaving his CEO post, McGuire was forced to forfeit more than $400 million worth of stock options and retirement benefits to settle civil and SEC suits related to the company’s options practices. As part of his agreement with the SEC, he agreed not to serve as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years.
Severance package: $392.5 million
Company: ExxonMobil (XOM)
Years as CEO: 1999 - 2005
Stock price change during tenure: +63%
Raymond served as CEO of Exxon Corporation from 1993 until its merger with Mobil Oil in 1999. Raymond joined Exxon in 1963 as a production research engineer and worked his way up the ladder. He retired in 2005 and was succeeded by current CEO Rex Tillerson.
Severance package: $212 million
Company: Home Depot (HD)
Years as CEO: 2000 – 2007
Stock price change during tenure: -4%
Nardelli left his post after a year of heavy criticism for everything from his pay package to the underperforming retailer’s corporate governance.
Severance package: $195.8 million
Company: Pfizer (PFE)
Years as CEO: 2001 – 2006
Stock price change during tenure: -36%
In the months leading up to his resignation, Pfizer’s Board of Directors became increasingly concerned with McKinnell’s management style and struggles to bring new drugs to the market, according to the NY Times.
Severance package: $161.5 million
Company: Merrill Lynch
Years as CEO: 2002 - 2007
Stock price change during tenure: +51%
O'Neal is widely blamed for steering the firm into subprime loans, which resulted in $8 billion in losses in the summer of 2007. O'Neal was replaced by John Thain.
Severance package: $81.6 million
Company: Walt Disney (DIS)
Years as CEO: 1995 – 1997
Stock price change during tenure: +23%
Ovitz served as Disney’s president for just 14 months before he left the company and got his hefty exit package. Investors sued Disney over the eye-popping payout, but Disney won and Ovitz received the full amount.
Severance package: $41.9 million
Company: Citigroup (C)
Years as CEO: 2003 – 2007
Stock price change during tenure: -6%
Prince retired after losses related to CDO and MBS investments caused multi-billion dollar write-downs and losses in the third quarter of 2007.
Severance package: $33.1 million
Company: Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)
Years as CEO: 2005 – 2010
Stock price change during tenure: +123%
Hurd stepped down after HP said he had falsified expense reports to conceal a relationship with a female contractor, who accused him of sexual harassment.
Severance package: $10.8 million
Company: General Motors (GM)
Years as CEO: 2000 - 2009
Stock price change during tenure: -47%
Wagoner was asked to step down as CEO by the Obama Administration in March amid the government's bailout effort. Several months later the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move which Wagoner adamantly argued against throughout his final months on the job.
Severance package: $3.8 million
Company: Freddie Mac (FRE)
Years as CEO: 2003-2008
Stock price change during tenure: -98%
Syron was at the helm of government-backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac during the most dramatic housing bubble burst in US history. Insiders say the former CEO rejected internal warnings that could have protected the company from some of the damage.