Oracle’s Safra Catz becomes top-paid female executive with $57 million

Alphabet Inc.’s CFO Ruth Porat emerged as the No. 2 woman with $41.1 million in awarded compensation after leaving Morgan Stanley


A file photo of Safra Catz, who joined Oracle in 1999 as a senior vice president, and was named co-CEO of the database company in 2014 after serving as co-president and CFO. Photo: Mint
A file photo of Safra Catz, who joined Oracle in 1999 as a senior vice president, and was named co-CEO of the database company in 2014 after serving as co-president and CFO. Photo: Mint

New York: Safra Catz emerged as the highest-paid US female executive in fiscal 2015 when she became co-chief executive officer of Oracle Corp.

Catz was awarded a $56.9 million pay package last year, placing her first among women on the Bloomberg Pay Index, a ranking of the 200 best-paid executives at companies that trade on US exchanges. Her pay included $10.5 million in special equity awards tied to the promotion in addition to annual stock grants and a $1 million salary.

Alphabet Inc.’s chief financial officer Ruth Porat emerged as the No. 2 woman with $41.1 million in awarded compensation after leaving Morgan Stanley, where she held the same role. Her pay package included a $5 million sign-on bonus. General Motors Co.’s Mary Barra, the first female chief executive of a major carmaker, came in third with $36.3 million awarded pay. She ran GM’s product development before becoming CEO in 2014.

Of the 17 women who currently rank among the 200 top-paid executives, 15 serve as executive officers of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. All but one of those businesses are bigger than the median of that group, which helps lift the compensation of their bosses since pay tends to be correlated with company revenue, said Eric Hoffmann, a vice president at executive compensation consulting firm Farient Advisors.

“Once women make it to the C-suite, their pay largely seems to be comparable to the men,” Hoffmann said. “The challenge is increasing the number of women in the top jobs.”

Catz, 54, joined Oracle in 1999 as a senior vice president. She was named co-CEO of the Redwood City, California-based database company in 2014 after serving as co-president and CFO. In her new role, she oversees finance, manufacturing and legal operations.

Catz’s pay matches that of her co-CEO Mark Hurd. Among men, Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder of cancer-research firm NantKwest Inc., emerged as the highest-paid executive for 2015 with $329.7 million. Paul Taubman, founder of investment bank PJT Partners Inc., came in second with $164 million. Both were granted large awards in connection with their companies’ initial public offerings.

Stock options

Catz supplants Apple Inc.’s Angela Ahrendts as the country’s highest-paid female executive. Ahrendts received $81.6 million in 2014 when she left her job as CEO of fashion company Burberry Group Plc to join Cupertino, California-based Apple as senior vice president of retail and online stores. Her pay for 2015 was $27.6 million, placing her fifth among female bosses.

Porat received a $5 million signing bonus and stock worth $35.2 million at Alphabet’s fiscal year end. She’s likely to remain among the top-paid women in 2016 since the Mountain View, California-based company awarded her a biennial stock grant on 3 February that was worth $38.3 million on that day. The pay index will allocate half of that award for 2016 and the other half for 2017.

GM’s Barra saw her compensation more than double to $36.3 million, much thanks to stock options worth $20.1 million. More than half of those will vest only if the company beats the median total shareholder return of a group of its closest competitors, including Volkswagen AG and Mazda Motor Corp.

Marillyn Hewson, chief executive of defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., was awarded $28.3 million last year and ranks No. 4 on the index. About $8.4 million of that figure came from an increase in the value of her pension.

Top talent

Boards recognize that top talent comes at a cost, said Conrad Pramboeck, head of compensation consulting at executive search firm Pedersen & Partners. “If you settle for the third or the fourth best candidate because the first is too expensive, that can become an expensive decision in the long-term since a bad manager can ruin a company,” he said.

The Bloomberg Pay Index tracks the 200 highest-paid executives who appear in the filings of companies that submit proxy statements to US regulators. Awarded pay values equity grants at each company’s fiscal year-end and can therefore differ from what’s reported in proxy filings. The ranking is based on proxy statements submitted through 13 May.

Spokesmen for Oracle, Alphabet, GM, Apple and Lockheed declined to comment. Bloomberg

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