Microsoft's Ballmer Is Pinching His Pennies

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer received a 5.5% decrease in his overall compensation last year as the company suffered through its first-ever drop in overall revenue, according to documents filed with the SEC Tuesday.

CEOs still getting big perks despite pay backlash

The documents also reveal that Microsoft paid Stephen Elop, who heads Microsoft's business division, a hefty $4.1 million in relocation expenses. Elop joined the company in January 2008 moving from Silicon Valley to the Seattle area.

Ballmer and three of the other executives named in the report – CFO Chris Liddell, COO Kevin Turner and Entertainment and Devices Division head Robbie Bach – also saw their 2009 overall compensation decrease.

Elop was the only one of the five executive's listed who saw his compensation rise in fiscal year 2009. Elop's comparable figure for fiscal year 2008, however, only reflects six month's salary as he joined the company half way through the fiscal year.

Overall, compensation for all Microsoft executives was down 29%.

Ballmer's base salary actually rose from $640,833 to $655,833, but his cash incentives payments were down $100,000 to $600,000 in 2009.

Ballmer since becoming CEO in January of 2000 has not taken any stock compensation. He already owns more than 400 million shares, which gives him ownership of 4.5% of the company.

Liddell, saw his salary increase by $20,000 to $561,667, but his overall compensation dropped 26% from $4.7 million to 3.5 million. Turner's base salary rose $21,000 to $641,667, but his overall compensation dropped 37% from $8.6 million to $5.4 million. Bach's base salary also rose $21,000 to $641,667, but his overall compensation dropped 24% from $8.2 million to $6.2 million.

All the executives suffered their losses based on drops in the fair market value of their stock awards at the time they were granted. Turner was the lone exception as he also suffered a loss in his cash incentive payment of $47,981.

The number likely won't brighten in fiscal year 2010, which started July 1 for Microsoft. The company decided in January 2009 to eliminate merit-based salary increases for fiscal year 2010. The decision also includes freezing base salaries for executive officers at their 2009 levels for fiscal year 2010.

The report also lists the evaluation the Board put forth on Ballmer's performance in 2009 and his merit for compensation via the companies incentive plan.

The evaluation states: "For fiscal year 2009, Mr. Ballmer's Incentive Plan award was $600,000 which was 90% of his base salary. This amount was recommended by the Compensation Committee to the Board based on his performance appraisal by the independent members of the Board and other information deemed relevant, including Mr. Ballmer's performance against his individual commitments, the Company's progress in key product development areas such as Windows and online search, his leadership in expense management which helped to offset the declines in revenue due to the economic downturn, and the financial performance of the Company relative to the 25 largest technology companies (measured by operating income). The independent members of the Board of Directors considered the recommendation of the Compensation Committee and approved Mr. Ballmer's Incentive Plan award."

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