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Ballmer jabs at Larry Ellison's wallet

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Steve Ballmer must be feeling a little sniffy over the colossal sums Oracle shelled out to its CEO Larry Ellison this year.

Ballmer mounted his high horse for The Times to weigh in on the sore subject of executive compensation.

"I find it interesting and probably not that considered a decision to do what [Oracle has] done," said Ballmer.

Ellison's fiscal 2007 pay package was valued at $61.2m and received stock option gains of nearly $182m. The company also paid Ellison a $1m salary and $8.4m in incentives. Ellison owns nearly a 25 per cent stake in the company, worth about $25bn.

Meanwhile, Ballmer got a pay package worth a paltry $1.3m. The poor little rich boy received a salary of only $620,000 and a $650,000 bonus. He's practically a monk. What could motivate a man to wake up each morning knowing he could afford only a medium-sized fleet of solid gold luxury jets? His 4.3 per cent of Microsoft shares.

"I'm sort of like a parent to this little child and I'm a large stakeholder in Microsoft," Ballmer told The Times. "And I certainly feel like if I do a good job I'll be well rewarded in the appreciations of our shares."

At least Microsoft's compensation committee agrees with him. According to the fiscal 2007 SEC filing, it "believes that Mr. Ballmer is underpaid for his role and performance".

Regardless of his motivation, we do love seeing good fat cat fight. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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