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Four Apple execs among US top five best-paid in 2012

And no, Tim Cook wasn't one of them – he earned a mere 3.2 'Ballmers'

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Four the top five highest-paid executives in the S&P 500 last fiscal year were Apple senior managers – and CEO Tim Cook was not among them.

According to a Bloomberg report on Monday, Apple's board of directors are apparently quite eager to keep their top team members happy – and, more importantly, to keep them from straying off to join the competition.

Numbers two through five in the top-earners list are Apple's SVP Technologies Bob Mansfield at $85.5m, SVP and general counsel Bruce Sewell at $69m, SVP Operations Jeff Williams at $68.7m, and SVP and CFO Peter Oppenheimer at $68.6m.

We'll give you, oh, how about a nanosecond to guess which S&P 500 headman was number one on the list. Yup, you're right: Oracle's Larry Ellison – a man whose, shall we say, "formidable" ego would be painfully bruised if he had to accept anything than the number-one spot.

Although Apple CEO Tim Cook settled in at a low, low number 1,016* on Bloomberg's list at a mere $4.17m in 2012 compensation, don't feel too sorry for him. In 2011, Cook's compensation package totalled an astounding $387m, which made him easily the highest paid CEO in the US, far outpacing Ellison's paltry $70m for that year – which must have royally frosted Larry.

Executive compensation is, of course, a complex matter of stock awards, bonuses, and other bennies, and Bloomberg provides details on all of those in its article. You and I are likely primarily concerned with the amount of our annual salaries – and Apple's Big Four did rather well in that catagory, as well, with each receiving a base salary of a princely $805,400.

This being The Reg, we should of course break these compensation figurers down into something a bit more tangible than mere dollars and cents, and Bloomberg provides us with an appropriate metric: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose salary for fiscal 2012 was a mere $1.32m.

With that figure in mind, the total compensation of Apple's four top earners was $291.8m, or 221 "Ballmers". Ellison's compensation came to 73 Ballmers, and if you add to his total the $51.7m each paid to Oracle co-presidents Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, the Oracle triumvirate was paid an impressive 151 Ballmers in 2012.

One final note: the compensation packages of Mansfield, Sewell, Williams, and Oppenheimer were for the fiscal year that ended last September. At the beginning of that year, Apple's stock was selling at around $380 per share, and as the fiscal year drew to a close had risen to around $670, having peaked earlier that month at over $700. As we click Publish on this story, that stock price has plummeted to around $420.

We may not be executive-compensation whizbangs here at Vulture Annex, but we're willing to guess that unless something radically positive happens between now and the end of Apple's fiscal 2013 this September, those top salaries will shrink by more than a few Ballmers. ®

* Bootnote

In this humble reporter's considered opinion, if an annual compensation package of well over four million clams doesn't even get you into the top one thousand S&P-exec earners, the increasingly yawning chasm between executive pay and the take-home of us droning drudges is cause for growing concern – a conclusion bolstered by Monday's news that hedge-fund manager David Tepper of Appaloosa Management earned a cool 1,667 Ballmers in 2012.

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