CEO Steve Ballmer 'underpaid,' Microsoft says

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer received compensation valued at $1.38 million in 2011, well below his peers

The CEOs in Steve Ballmer's peer group make up to $15.8 million on average, Microsoft estimates. By comparison, Ballmer's total compensation opportunity is just over $2 million.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer received compensation valued at $1.38 million this year, according to documents filed this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. His total package is up roughly 2% compared to 2010, when he received compensation valued at $1.35 million.

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Ballmer's 2011 pay package consists of a $682,500 salary and a $685,500 bonus (half of the $1.37 million bonus he was eligible to receive). He also received a modest $11,915 in perks, which consist of a 401(k) company match and imputed income related to Microsoft's benefits program.

At his own request, Ballmer didn't receive any stock awards or option awards in 2011.

"As in previous years, Mr. Ballmer's incentive compensation opportunity for fiscal year 2011 was limited to a cash payment of up to 200% of his fiscal year 2011 base salary, consistent with his request that we not award him equity compensation," Microsoft said in its annual proxy statement.

Ballmer's compensation is significantly lower than that of his peers, the company claims. According to Microsoft's analysis, the CEOs in Ballmer's peer group, on average, receive a $1.4 million base salary, $4.5 million cash bonus, and a total compensation opportunity of $15.8 million. By comparison, Ballmer received a $682,500 salary and was eligible for a $1.37 million bonus -- making his total compensation opportunity worth just over $2 million.

"As the principal leader of Microsoft, Mr. Ballmer focuses on building our long-term success, and, as a significant shareholder, his personal wealth is tied directly to Microsoft's value. While the Committee and the Board believe Mr. Ballmer is underpaid for his role and performance, they have accepted his request," Microsoft said.

Even within Microsoft, Ballmer is the lowest paid of the five "named executive officers" listed in the company's proxy statement. The most highly compensated of the five is Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer. He netted $9.3 million in 2011, up 17% from $7.9 million in 2010.

CFO Peter Klein received $3.5 million in total compensation, down 3% from $3.6 million in 2010. Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live Division, received $7.2 million. Kurt DelBene, president of the Office Division, received $6.2 million. (Neither Sinofsky nor DelBene were among the Microsoft's named executive officers in 2010, so there are no prior-year compensation figures for comparison.)

The company, meanwhile, grew revenue and income by 12% and 23%, respectively, in its 2011 fiscal year ended June 30. Revenue came in at $69.94 billion, up from $62.48 billion in 2010. Net income hit $23.15 billion, up from $18.76 billion in the prior year.

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