GM CEO Barra's compensation triples to $15.8M during her tumultuous first year in top job

Markets Associated Press

General Motors CEO Mary Barra's compensation more than tripled in 2014 to $15.8 million in her tumultuous first year in the automaker's top job.

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Barra and other top executives got only 74 percent of the cash incentives they could have received, because GM fell short of goals set by the board. But her stock awards more than doubled from 2013 when she was senior vice president of for product development and purchasing.

GM reported its 2014 compensation Friday in its proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also named a new board member and announced that its annual stockholders meeting will be held on June 9 at GM's Detroit headquarters.

Barra, 53, became the first woman to lead a major global automaker on Jan. 15. Almost immediately, she was hit with a series of embarrassing safety recalls that led to congressional hearings, a Justice Department investigation and a $35 million fine from U.S. safety regulators. The recalls included 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches that caused numerous crashes. So far, the company has agreed to pay compensation in 87 death cases and for 157 injuries.

She received a base salary of $1.57 million, cash incentive pay of just over $2 million, stock awards valued at $11.76 million and nearly $413,000 in other compensation. Some of the stock awards date to 2013, while others are performance-based and vest only if the company meets certain metrics.

GM said that last year it switched to a more performance-based compensation plan after it became free of U.S. government ownership and compensation restrictions.

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Barra's predecessor, Dan Akerson, received compensation worth just under $2 million for last year. His package was worth $9 million in 2013.

Barra and other top executives got only three-quarters of the cash compensation they could have received because the company failed to hit metrics that included adjusted pretax earnings, global market share, free cash flow and global quality. Barra's cash incentives would have been $2.8 million if GM hit 100 percent of the metrics, and it could have been as high as $5.6 million if the company exceeded the targets.

For global quality, GM's warranty claim performance exceeded the goals, but the company fell short in customer enthusiasm, customer loyalty and warranty payments that included recall costs, according to the proxy statement.

GM also gave retention stock awards to three executives, including just over $2 million to now-retired General Counsel Michael Millikin. The proxy said that retaining his expertise during a leadership team transition was critical to GM's operations. The stock vested at the end of December.

Millikin, who retired March 1, was roundly criticized during a Senate hearing last year because of the way his department handled the ignition switch recall. Some senators demanded he be fired, and one called the legal department's performance "stunning." Although GM has admitted that some of its personal knew about the ignition switch problems more than a decade ago but failed to act, Millikin said he didn't learn of the problem until last year when the recalls began.

GM also announced that it has nominated Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Swiss drug maker Novartis, to the board. He'll stand for election at the annual meeting in June to replace E. Neville Isdell, who is retiring.

The Associated Press formula for executive compensation includes salary, bonuses, perks, above-market interest the company pays on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock and stock options awarded during the year. It does not count changes in the present value of pension benefits, which makes the AP total slightly different in most cases from the total reported by companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission.