Apple CEO's public relations dividend

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the event introducing the new iPhone 4s at the company’s headquarters October 4, 2011 in Cupertino, Calif. Cook says he will forgo the $75 million dividend from his company stock.

Kai Ryssdal: There are all kinds of stories out there about CEOs working for a dollar a year. A dollar in actual salary, that is. They still get their more lucrative stock and options.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has now raised the stakes and taken the compensation give-back game into record territory. He's turned down a $75 million stock dividend.

Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports.

Adriene Hill: Apple’s products are, at the very least, expensive and good to look at. The same could be said for the $75 million gesture by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Camelia Kuhnen: To tell everybody look, we’re a good company. We’re not trying to be greedy here. Our CEO is not trying to be greedy.

Camelia Kuhnen is a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Kuhnen: One can speculate, yes, that this was maybe a bit of a PR move.

Charles Elson: Oh I think it’s a very smart call.

Charles Elson heads the Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. He says refusing the dividend helps Cook keep a low profile, at a time when the public is fed up with CEO salaries.

Elson: CEO pay is at the heart of the political debate, it’s at heart of the financial debate, and less is better today.


Elson: By forgoing this bonus, he’s buying I wouldn’t necessarily say shareholder support, but shareholder neutrality.

And really, does a guy like Tim Cook -- with hundreds of millions in Apple stock and a seven-figure salary -- really need another $75 million?

David Larcker heads the Corporate Governance Research Program at Stanford.

David Larcker: May be the case that he looks and this and says, you know, I was given a bunch of stock grants of $300-odd-million and that’s enough.

Yeah, I think that’d be enough for me too.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a correspondent covering the business of entertainment.


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