The 50 highest-compensation packages this year totaled $447.7 million, up 16.2 percent from the previous year.
Gains from stock options drove the increase. Option gains rose 79 percent to $165.2 million followed by restricted stock gains that rose 6.7 percent to $164.2 million, base salaries rose 10.6 percent to $42.5 million and cash bonuses totaled $68.7 million, a 0.4 percent increase.
Nationally, median CEO compensation among the 500 largest public companies in the United States rose 6.1 percent according to a study from Equilar, an executive compensation and corporate governance data firm.
That was the highest median CEO pay increase since 2013. Equilar notes that companies are shifting the design of executive compensation packages to be less reliant on stock options and utilizing more performance-based equity awards.
CEOs of Minnesota-based public companies are also becoming more reliant on restricted stock awards. Among the CEOs listed 26 of the 50 got stock option gains but 42 of the 50 earned something from restricted stock awards.
— PATRICK KENNEDY