Top executives at the 50 biggest public companies in Los Angeles County pulled down salaries, bonuses and other compensation of $441 million last year, virtually identical to the previous year.

But when the value of exercised options and vested stock grants from prior years is factored in, the aggregate compensation realized last year more than doubles to $1.1 billion up 17 percent from the year before, according to data compiled by the Business Journal.

Much of the compensation went to one executive, Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum Corp., who easily topped the list with $55.6 million in total company compensation. Add options exercised and grants vested from prior years and his payday hit a jaw dropping $464 million.

Also standing head and shoulders above the rest of the executives was No. 2, Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide Financial Corp., who received $48.1 million in total company compensation. The value of options exercised and vested grants also brought him into the nine-figure club with $127 million.

Irani and Mozilo did not comment.

The proxy statements released this year were the first requiring companies to more thoroughly detail their executive compensation with one goal being to reduce gargantuan payouts.

That may happen eventually. Ralph Ward, publisher of the Boardroom Insider newsletter, said he's gotten "a good amount of anecdotal cases" in which compensation committees were stunned when they saw the numbers added up on one page. "Seeing that total on paper is now going to have an influence in the future," he said.

The Business Journal compiles a list of the highest paid executives at the biggest publicly traded companies each year following the filing of proxy statements detailing their compensation.

This year, like last, the Business Journal has followed the lead of the Securities and Exchange Commission and ranked the executives based on salary, bonuses and the company's estimated value of stock grants and options awarded in 2006. Also included in the figure is the value of pension plans and other miscellaneous compensation, such as security services.

The rankings separately compile the value of options granted in past years but exercised in 2006, as well as the value of vested grants all data the companies separately report in the proxies.

The Business Journal found that despite all the attention on executive pay, new disclosure rules and boards of director efforts to better link pay with performance, not much has changed. In fact, aggregate compensation increased this year, though in Irani's case some of that is ironically linked to an Occidental effort to lower its total executive compensation.


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