Is Mulally Overpaid?

Hello, and welcome to IndustryWeek's latest forum: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Beside being the title of one of my favorite movies, it's also a new forum in which I hope to see a lot of lively discussion of news and issues affecting the automotive, aerospace, maritime and rail manufacturing industries. Let's get started!

By now everyone has probably seen the reports that Ford Motor Co. recently granted wonder-CEO Alan Mulally $33.4 million in stock (after taxes) as a "thank-you" for engineering the company's turnaround. You probably also read that the stocks and options he has accumulated since joining the company in 2006 are estimated to be north of $300 million -- and that doesn't include his salary, bonus and other perks.

Just to get the conversation going, I'm going to take the unpopular position and argue that Mulally's compensation package is fair. After all, his decision to restructure the company prior to the financial crisis saved us, the taxpayers, billions of dollars that we would've had to cough up in bailout funds. And giving top executives generous helpings of stock in a company is a smart move -- it helps keep them vested in the success of the company.

Is it a lot of money? Sure. Is it more money than I'll ever see in my lifetime? Um, yeah. But considering what the Detroit automakers mean to our economy and our national psyche, I think Mulally's performance -- saving Ford -- merits the rewards.

What do you think?

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