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Apple CEO Tim Cook has hit the executive-compensation trifecta, having slotted in at number one in CNBC's "Highest Paid CEOs" list.

After being proclaimed the same earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, it appears that life at the iTop is quite remunerative, indeed.

As CNBC tells it, 52-year-old Cook, who joined Apple in 1998, had an average annual compensation of $95m between 2007 and 2011, and watched his stock increase over the past year by 32.56 per cent.

While you and your humble Reg reporter may think of compensation as something you receive in your pay envelope, in the rarified world of the comporate honcho, it's a bit more complicated. According to CNBC, "Compensation is defined as salary, cash bonus, stock awards, option awards, nonequity incentive plan, change in pension value, and all other compensation (such as contributions to 401(k)s and life insurance premium payments)."

Figured that way, Cook rules. Larry Ellison comes in a rather distant second, with an average annual compensation of a mere $70m, and Rob Johnson, formerly of Apple's retail juggernaut and now attempting to raise JC Penney from the ashes, is number three at $53m.

Cook's stock performance could have been better. Apple closed on Wednesday at $561.70 per share, down from a heady $705.07 peak in September. Still, one year ago Apple's stock was trading at around $360 per share, so $560-plus ain't too shabby.

With an average annual compensation of $95m, it's a bit more understandable as to why Cook turned down an Apple stock dividend this May. After all, that payout would have been worth a paltry $75m.

Chickenfeed, m'dear, chickenfeed. ®

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