No. 14

Eisner Scores Big at Disney

If 1997 was a bonanza year for any single Angeleno, that person would be Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner.

Eisner scored two major coups in the just-ended year, beginning with his negotiation of a seven-year contract extension last January. Under his new deal, Eisner will get options on roughly 8 million Disney shares, exercisable between 2003 and 2006 believed to be the largest single grant of options ever given to an executive in one fell swoop, according to compensation experts.

A widely used mathematical model gives the options a hypothetical value of $196 million, although the real value is directly tied to Disney's future stock price.

But Eisner's biggest coup came just last month, when the Disney chief earned $565 million in profits as he exercised options for 7.3 million shares of Disney stock he had accumulated since 1989. The big profit was made possible by Disney's soaring stock price.

An executive compensation expert estimated Eisner has earned close to $1 billion since joining Disney 13 years ago, making him the nation's best-paid chief of a public corporation.

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