American Express CEO’s compensation falls 61 pct

Ken ChenaultThe chief executive of American Express saw his pay package drop 61 percent last year as the credit card company’s profits narrowed amid the downturn, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing.
Kenneth Chenault, 58, got cash and other compensation worth $16.8 million in 2009, compared with $42.9 million in 2008. Lower stock and option awards account for much of the drop.

Chenault’s base salary of $1.2 million fell slightly from $1.25 million in 2008, and his performance-based cash bonus of $5.3 million was lower than the $6.1 million he got in 2008.

But his stock and option awards fell about 88 percent. He received stock and options in 2009 that were worth $4 million at the time they were granted, compared with $34.2 million worth in 2008.

American Express, which is based in New York, has said it will raise Chenault’s base salary for 2010 to $2 million so that more of his compensation comes from his base pay and less from incentive awards.

For 2009, Chenault also got a $5.1 million bonus, after declining one in 2008. His other compensation of $980,079 included $401,500 for personal use of a company jet, $138,600 for other travel costs, $117,400 in retirement plan contributions, $199,105 in dividends and dividend equivalents and $54,200 for a home security system.

Chenault, who has been chairman and CEO since 2001, also got above-market deferred compensation of $178,500, compared with $188,480 in 2008, according to Tuesday’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

American Express caters to a more affluent clientele, but that hasn’t made it immune from soaring loan losses during the downturn. Before the fourth quarter of last year, it had eight quarters of falling profits.
The company’s shares were up 19 cents to $40.89 in afternoon trading Tuesday.

The AP’s total pay calculations include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations don’t include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Source: The Associated Press.