CEO spouses transport on association dime in little-known perk

Your association is roughly certain to collect adult your business outing costs. But if your associate or poignant other tags along, who foots a bill?

If you’re a CEO, a comparison executive or even a part-time corporate director, your association might be covering a cost — mostly on tip of seven-figure remuneration packages and other perks trimming from cars and nation bar memberships to income allowances.

At a time when some companies are underneath shareholder vigour to rein in extreme compensate and benefits, many continue to offer a little-known perk buried in a excellent imitation of Securities Exchange Commission filings: a business transport add-on of a spouses and poignant others of CEOs, comparison execs and house members.

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A USA TODAY research of corporate proxies found scores profitable for travel, camp and dishes for business-related events, corporate junkets, even assemblage during final summer’s Olympics in London. In some cases, companies even lonesome executives’ taxes on wedding transport reimbursements given it was deliberate income.

Perks trimming from nation bar memberships to personal use of corporate aircraft have prolonged been partial of executive remuneration packages, partly underneath a corporate mantra that they’re indispensable to attract and keep leaders and partly due to a fact that remuneration consultants mostly benchmark offerings during one company, creation it easier for others to follow suit.

Companies, by substitute statements and spokespeople, contend covering wedding transport costs fosters improved relations among directors, execs and employees. But corporate governance experts contend wedding transport advantages for well-compensated execs and part-time directors cranky a line.

“You have to consternation given companies are profitable for things like this,” says Michelle Leder of proxy-tracker Footnoted.org. “It’s not as if any of these people are flourishing on smallest salary or have taken a vouch of poverty.”

AN OLYMPIC OUTLAY

Last summer’s Olympics in London was a company-paid end for several spouses of execs and directors.

Foot Locker reimbursed CEO Ken Hicks — who perceived $10.5 million in 2012 remuneration and gained $12.9 million from vested shares — some-more than $8,000 for his wife’s Olympics trip. Visa supposing house member Robert Matschullatover $30,000 in wedding transport and executive John Swainson scarcely $13,000. That’s on tip of over $300,000 any in house compensation.

Cisco Systems supposing executive Michael Capellas over $20,000 to cover wedding losses and taxes for dual trips, including one to a Olympics. Capellas perceived $295,000 for house use final year, and as conduct of a company’s corner try with EMC until final November, perceived over $2 million some-more in compensate and incentives.

General Electric paid for Olympics’ trips for some-more than a dozen house members and executives. In SEC filings, GE lumps wedding transport costs with other perks, including ignored GE products, automobile service, home confidence and medical exams for comparison execs. For directors, wedding transport is total with ignored products. The association says a value of particular wedding transport payouts, described as “certain expenses” in a proxy, was reduction than $25,000. GE orator Sebastien Duchamp declined to comment.

Among other examples, General Mills split out over $34,000 in wedding transport costs for CEO Ken Powell and about $32,000 in wedding transport and taxation reimbursements for COO Ian Friendly, mostly for a Dubai assembly of Cereal Partners Worldwide, General Mills’ corner try with Swiss food hulk Nestle. “Spousal assemblage was encouraged,” says General Mills mouthpiece Kirstie Foster. Powell’s 2012 compensation: $8.6 million, and $7 million from sportive formerly awarded batch options and vested shares. Friendly perceived about $2.7 million in 2012 remuneration and gained $7.5 million from vested shares and exercised batch options.

Pork processor Smithfield Foods lonesome over $10,000 in transport losses for CEO C. Larry Pope’s wife. That’s on tip of $75,000 for Pope’s personal use of corporate aircraft, $35,000 for a association car, $102,000 in free relating contributions and remuneration valued during over $8 million. Pope also gained $6.2 million from vested shares and will make during slightest $22 million in influence bonuses and accelerated vesting of association batch following Smithfield’s $7.1 billion buyout by China’s Shuanghui International. Smithfield did not respond for comment.

Haliburton valued 2012 wedding transport costs for CEO David Lesar during $34,000 — and $19,500 in taxes a association lonesome for imputed income associated to wedding travel. That’s on tip of a $343,000 a oil services hulk says Lesar perceived for personal use of corporate aircraft. Lesar’s 2012 compensation: over $17 million, and a $13.6 million from vested shares.

Ventas, a Real Estate Investment Trust, lonesome scarcely $58,000 in wedding transport and party advantages for CEO Debra Cafaro. Her 2012 compensation: $11 million, and $11.3 million from vested shares and sportive formerly awarded batch options.

FOSTERING CLOSER TIES

Corporate policies are as sundry as a companies charity them. Dell says it pays for “reasonable” wedding transport losses if it requests spouses’ assemblage during company-sponsored events. Visa says such perks foster government performance.

Chevron, that lonesome adult to $20,000 for directors’ wedding transport costs to Southeast Asia final October, says a advantage helps inspire “social communication among directors as good as yield opportunities for spouses to attend receptions with internal and ostracise employees,” according to a proxy. Chevron directors accept annual retainers value $300,000.

Industrial tools builder Parker Hannifin says wedding transport payment helps “encourage executive officers to spend an suitable volume of time with their approach reports in locations divided from corporate headquarters, to concede executive officers and their spouses to rise a some-more personal attribute with a executive officers’ subordinates and their families, and to inspire spouses to attend retirement parties, funerals, business dinners and other corporate functions during locations divided from their homes.”

Other companies contend wedding transport reimbursements foster chummier relationships.

Baxter International reimburses transport and party losses of “significant others of directors” given house members trust it helps “to emanate a clarity of collegiality” and helps “in fulfilling their responsibilties,” according to a company’s latest proxy. Among Baxter’s 13 directors, 11 have been on a house during slightest 6 years.

The motive is identical during ConocoPhillips, that reimburses directors and execs for wedding and guest transport to functions such as retirement parties. “The house believes that such costs are losses of formulating a collegial sourroundings that enhances a efficacy of a board,” according a a company’s proxy. (Half a board’s 10 directors are new given 2010.)

ConocoPhillips executive Mohd Marican perceived some-more than $61,000 for guest-related transport and taxes covering transport costs in 2012. He and other house members perceived annual retainers value $285,000.

ConcocoPhillips also picked adult wedding and guest-related transport taxes valued during scarcely $31,500 for effusive CEO James Mulva, who perceived scarcely $12 million in remuneration after timid 6 months into 2012. The association also supposing Mulva with $22,260 to cover taxes for a value of his retirement gifts. That’s on tip of a $68.4 million grant payout, $67.3 million gains sportive formerly awarded batch options and another $64.8 million from vested shares.

EXACT SUMS ELUSIVE

At many companies, it’s probably unfit to establish what is spent on wedding travel. GE, Target, BMC Software, convenience products marketer WMS Industries and Parker Hannifin, among others, pile wedding transport costs with other executive perks. Furniture builder Herman Miller’s execs cover wedding transport costs underneath a “bundled benefits” devise value adult to $36,000 a year that can also be used for cellphone fees, bar impost and commuting.

About 20% of Fortune 500 companies surveyed by remuneration consultant Towers Watson yield wedding transport perks. But considering many execs are authorised personal use of a corporate aircraft or are compulsory to fly corporate planes even when not on association business, wedding transport costs might be under-reported.

“There is some ambivalence and difficulty on how companies are stating this,” says Robert Newbury, Towers Watson’s executive of executive remuneration resources.

One thing’s for sure: wedding transport reimbursements — distinct other perks that have been nude divided from many executives in an epoch of augmenting shareholder activism and annoy during extreme remuneration — are not vanishing away. That 20% series cited by Towers Watson is probably unvaried given 2008, Newbury says.

Yet while some companies contend they need to say wedding transport perks to keep them rival with other firms, not all agree.

After reviewing a executive perk and advantages plan, Applied Industrial Technologies finished wedding transport compensate and associated taxes as good as reimbursing employees for child-care costs while they were on business trips. The production retailer says such perks are no longer fitting to attract and keep “superior employees for pivotal positions.”

AIT also jettisoned other perks ordinarily supposing to comparison execs, including automobile allowances, bar memberships and financial planning.

Corporate governance experts such as Paul Hodgson approve such moves.

“Bottom line, this isn’t a lot of money,” Hodgson says. “But it’s not needed.”