Lear CEO tops list of highest paid execs

Clockwise from top left: Simoncini, Ammann, Clarke, Hackett, Musk and Barra

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Matthew Simoncini, who retired after guiding seat supplier Lear Corp. to record sales and profits, was the highest-paid CEO at publicly traded U.S. automotive companies last year, according to the Automotive News/Equilar CEO Compensation study. Simoncini’s stock awards alone were worth more than the total compensation for the No. 2 CEO, Mary Barra of General Motors.

The only other CEO to top $20 million in total compensation last year was Scott Santi of Illinois Tool Works, which makes engineered fasteners and other components, including capless refueling systems.

The Automotive News/Equilar study analyzed data for 39 companies, including automakers, suppliers and public retailers. Median compensation for the 39 CEOs was $5.5 million in 2017, 19 percent more than a year earlier.

The study calculates the benefits that executives receive when stock and options are vested or exercised, so the numbers differ from companies’ executive compensation reports that value awards when they are granted, Charlie Pontrelli, research analyst for Equilar, told Automotive News.

Automotive News/Equilar CEO Compensation Study

Simoncini’s total compensation in 2017 rose 14 percent to $32.4 million, according to the study. Simoncini’s base salary of $1.4 million was bolstered by $26.4 million in stock award gains.

Most of Simoncini’s pay came from the vesting of his 2015-17 performance shares, Pontrelli said. Simoncini earned the maximum bonus for which he was eligible based on Lear’s strong results.

In 2017, Lear posted record net income of $1.3 billion on $20.5 billion in revenue, and closed on a $307 million acquisition of Grupo Antolin’s automotive seating unit.

Simoncini became Lear’s CEO in 2011, shortly after the company’s bankruptcy reorganization, and saw the company’s stock price more than quadruple during his tenure. He stepped down in February.

Top gainers

Did shareholders gain?

See how stock performance compares with CEO compensation. Here are the companies in our study, listed in order of change in compensation from 2016 to 2017. Companies whose CEO has been in the position for less than two full years are not listed.


Superior Industries International

Navistar International

Shiloh Industries


General Motors



Modine Manufacturing



Illinois Tool Works


Ally Financial




Asbury Automotive Group

Penske Automotive Group


Sonic Automotive

PPG Industries

Group 1 Automotive


Cooper-Standard Holdings

American Axle & Lithia Motors

KAR Auction Services

Goodyear Tire & Rubber


Source: Equilar Inc.

Among other CEOs on the list, Richard Kyle of bearing maker Timken had the largest increase from 2016. His 2017 compensation rose 324 percent to $7.2 million.

Donald Stebbins of Superior Industries International received $5.9 million, 225 percent more than the previous year. Troy Clarke, CEO of Navistar International, made $4.7 million last year, a 182 percent increase. Compensation for Shiloh Industries CEO Ramzi Hermiz and Jabil CEO Mark Mondello also more than doubled.

GM’s Barra climbed to second place on the total compensation list when her income more than doubled to $25.9 million, driven primarily by stock award and incentive plan gains. Other GM executives also saw large increases in their compensation as the company’s stock price rose.

Barra received $17.9 million from stock and $5 million in nonstock incentives. Barra’s base salary was unchanged at $2.1 million.

Barra’s 2017 compensation compared with $11.9 million the previous year, which was an increase of 51 percent from $7.9 million in 2015.

Other GM executives received an income bump from the vesting of performance shares granted in 2014 that were awarded at 195 percent of their target, Pontrelli said.

He added that many of the executives, excluding Barra, exercised options in 2017 but not in 2016.

Barra’s compensation, GM said in an April regulatory filing, was tied to the company’s performance on targets that include its efforts to deploy self-driving vehicles in dense urban environments in 2019, launch at least 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, and increase margins to 10 percent in North America.

Compensation for Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president for global product development, purchasing and supply chain, jumped 132 percent to $13.6 million. GM President Dan Ammann received a 68 percent boost to $12.2 million, and Alan Batey, GM’s president of North America, gained 107 percent to $9.2 million.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett made $7.3 million in 2017, his first year on the job, driven mostly by bonus and incentive plans. Hackett replaced Mark Fields in May 2017. Other Ford executives saw modest increases, except for Executive Chairman Bill Ford, whose compensation dove 69 percent to $9.2 million last year, from $30.1 million.

Ford CFO Bob Shanks pulled in $4.5 million in 2017, a 19 percent increase. Compensation rose 11 percent for Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, to $4.6 million.


Biggest losers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk experienced the biggest decline in compensation. He earned $49,920 in salary, which is minimum wage in California for an 80-hour week. That’s 99.996 percentless than his 2016 compensation, which was valued at more than $1.3 billion after he exercised soon-to-expire options on the automaker’s skyrocketing stock.

Last year, Musk was in the list’s No. 1 spot; this year he is at the bottom. He may not be in the study much longer, if he succeeds in a recently announced plan to take Tesla private.

Compensation dropped 60 percent for Goodyear Tire & Rubber CEO Richard Kramer, to $5.5 million, and 56 percent for KAR Auction Services CEO Jim Hallett, to $6.5 million.

They are among nine CEOs included in the study who experienced a decline in compensation from 2016.

Dustin Walsh contributed to this report.


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