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Sun aims for sky, shoots self in foot

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Trick or treat?

Schwartz gets a $1m annual salary from Sun, a level that has stayed the same for the past three years, according to the proxy. But stock awards and options, plus other compensation, Sun's president and CEO had a total compensation of $6.2m in fiscal 2009. That's 20 per cent less than last year, and less than half of the $14.1m Schwartz took home in fiscal 2007.

Mike Lehman, Sun's chief financial officer, gets an $800,000 salary and pulled in $1.43m in total compensation in fiscal 2009, down sharply from the $3.73m he got in fiscal 2008. John Fowler, executive vice president and general manager of Sun's Systems Group - and very likely the person who will run the Sun unit if it becomes part of Oracle - had a $575,000 salary and $1.75m in total compensation, down a smidgen.

Greg Papadopoulos, Sun's chief technology officer, had $2m in total compensation, also down a bit, and Peter Ryan, who is the executive vice president of global sales and services, got $2.38m in total compensation in 2009, mysteriously including a $705,640 accelerated retention bonus payment from fiscal 2010 and another retention bonus for fiscal 2009.

The proxy also shows the silver and golden parachutes that the top brass at Sun have - the silver one being if they are involuntarily removed and the other if they are terminated following a change of control in the company. Schwartz has a $12.8m golden parachute, while Lehman has a $4m one, Fowler has a $3.8m deal, and Papadopoulos has a $4.1m cushion. Ryan, who is a British citizen, has a $5.1m package. McNealy has a golden parachute set at just over $10m.

With those kinds of numbers, it is no wonder that everyone is behind the Oracle deal going through, and Sun's top brass were actively seeking a deal with IBM and perhaps other companies. Being fired is worth more than coming to work.

One more thing: Sun has yet to report its financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 ended in September. My guess is that Sun will sneak this out after the markets close tomorrow. Trick or treat. ®

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