Here are some of the nonsalary perks companies have made available to top managers:
Guaranteed returns on investment: Top executives at Enron could contribute salary and bonuses to so-called deferred compensation accounts with guaranteed minimum annual returns of 12 percent. Struggling telecom-equipment giant Lucent Technologies Inc. has a similar plan that promises to pay 5 percentage points more than the 10-year Treasury rate, which is about 5 percent.
Bigger company matches: The typical company match for a 401K-defined contribution plan is 50 cents for every dollar the employee contributes, up to 6 percent of the worker's salary. That represents an employer's contribution of 3 percent of the employee's pay. The company contribution for an executive version averages 5 percent of pay.
Huge low-cost loans: SEC filings show telecom company Global Crossing Ltd., which filed for bankruptcy protection, made an $8 million loan to Chief Executive Thomas J. Casey in November 2000 and a $1.8 million loan to President David Walsh in March 2001. The interest rates they paid -- 6.01 percent for Casey, 4.75 percent for Walsh -- were 3 to 4 percentage points below prevailing rates on standard home equity loans at the time.
Lavish life insurance: Many workers get some life insurance through their companies -- typically either $50,000 or one year's pay. Executives can get much more, typically equal to three to four times the executives' annual pay.
Company-paid taxes: Companies pay a variety of tax bills for certain executives. When a company's benefits are so great that executives incur a tax bill from the IRS, companies often give executives money to pay the tax. Since that cash payment also incurs income tax, companies often add an additional sum to cover the extra tax. Lucent Chief Executive Henry B. Schacht was given $57,325 to pay tax on "certain fringe benefits" in 2000.
Fringe benefits: Other perks, such as the personal use of corporate jets, company-provided chauffeurs and company-paid financial planning, can add tens of thousands of dollars to an executive's total compensation.
Source: Los Angeles Times