Last year was certainly a tumultuous one for The Walt Disney Co., whose corporate governance practices came under fierce attack. But its chief financial officer, for one, was certainly compensated well for managing the changes that Disney eventually made to some of its practices.
Finance chief Thomas O. Staggs earned nearly $6.4 million in 2004, nearly triple the $2.3 million he took home a year earlier. His salary climbed a healthy 10.5 percent, to a little more than $930,000, and his bonus jumped 50 percent, to $1.5 million.
The largest increase in Staggs’s compensation came from a $3.45 million long-term incentive payout made in 2004; he received no long-term payout in either of the two prior years. According to Disney’s proxy, this payout of performance-based stock units was awarded in fiscal 2002, based on performance during fiscal 2003 and 2004, in the form of 127,556 shares of stock at a market price of $27.06.
The proxy was filed on the same day as Disney’s announcement that it had officially separated the positions of chairman and chief executive officer. The company had nominally done so last year when it named former senator George Mitchell as chairman, shortly after shareholders withheld more than 40 percent of their votes for the reelection of Michael Eisner, who was then chairman and CEO.
Disney also recently received approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep two shareholder resolutions off its proxy. One would have provided certain shareholders with more input in nominating directors; the other would have set aside one board position for a Disney heir.