Microsoft pays $2 million to relocate a single employee

Microsoft filed its annual proxy statement on Friday and there are lots of interesting little items in it. For instance, reports that Microsoft's board is holding Microsoft to higher standards. As such, four executives didn't get offered as much stock as they otherwise could have.

Hard to call that a hardship given the astronomical sums of money top executives earn and the expensive perks. For instance, one interesting tidbit found in the footnotes, as reported by the Seattle Times, showed that Microsoft picked up a $2 million tab as a "relocation" expense when it hired Chris Liddell as its Chief Financial Officer. It hired Liddell in 2005 but declared the $2 million in its 2007 proxy statement. The story notes:

"When Microsoft hired Liddell in 2005, it bought Liddell's East Coast home - he lived in Connecticut - for a price based on independent appraisals, Reuters said. The company sold the house in the past fiscal year - for what's described as a significant, unspecified loss. The amount was included in a $2 million relocation expense."

This $2 million does not include say, a signing bonus - a one time bonus upon accepting an employment offer - either. According to statements in the proxy, relocation expenses covers "travel, shipping household goods, and temporary housing." A person sure can ship a lot of goods and find a really decent temporary home for $2 million.

His $2 million was labeled income, and as such is taxable - but (suh-weet for Liddell) - it was also included in the retirement matched funds, and therefore netted him $6,750 in his 401K. His total compensation for 2007 is $4.7 million, including the $2 million.

Still, that's peanuts compared to COO Kevin Turner, whose base salary of $595,000 was complemented by nearly $6.9 million in stock and $270,514 in "other" compensation for a grand total of $8.45 million in 2007. Steve Ballmer's total was a mere $1.28 million. Here's hoping poor Steve bought his house before the housing slump hit. At that wage, he can't afford to entertain his colleagues in the style to which they are surely accustomed.

(If you like billionaires' homes, you can tour Bill Gates' house here.)

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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