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Executives at LI companies got median pay raise of 5.6% last year

New data from government filings also show that some LI CEOs were paid 100 or more times the compensation of a typical worker at their companies.

Some of the highest paid executives on Long

Some of the highest paid executives on Long Island include, from left: Dan Bodner of Verint Systems Inc.; Stanley Bergman of Henry Schein Co.; and Jeffrey Siegel of Lifetime Brands. Photo Credit: Composite Photo; Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan, Henry Schein Co. LLC and Danny Ghitis

Top executives at Long Island public companies got a median pay raise of about 5.6 percent in 2017 — even as some highly paid executives took multimillion-dollar pay cuts, according to newly compiled data.

The region's biggest public company executive pay package in 2017, worth $9.5 million, went to Ivan Kaufman, president, chairman and chief executive of Arbor Realty Trust Inc., a Uniondale real estate investment trust, according to government filings compiled by financial researcher S&P Global Market Intelligence and Newsday.

Kaufman's compensation was a $3.6 million raise from 2016. It compares with the $80,430 median compensation of the company's 445 other employees and is 118 times higher, according to the filings.

The list includes 198 top executives — CEOs and other high-ranking officials — at 48 of Long Island's 50 largest publicly traded companies by revenue.

Orbit International Corp., a Hauppauge-based maker of custom power supplies, is traded on the OTC Pink market, which doesn't require its small companies to be registered with the SEC.

Cemtrex Inc., a Farmingdale-based provider of electronic devices, software and electronics manufacturing services, included compensation information in its proxy but didn't calculate its executives' total compensation.

The Long Island list of executive compensation, and an accompanying list for New York City, suggest that women have yet to achieve equality in the boardroom. Seventeen female executives were on the Long Island list, accounting for 7.7 percent of the total. Fifty-four female executives populated the New York City list, amounting to 10.9 percent of the total.

Privately owned companies and their executives are not included in the filings.

James Simons, the founder of East Setauket-based Renaissance Technologies, a closely held hedge fund, is not on the list. In 2017, he earned an estimated $1.7 billion, No. 1 among all hedge fund executives, according to an annual survey by Institutional Investor's Alpha magazine.

The median executive pay at the public companies on the list was $723,799 last year, up from $658,561 in fiscal 2016. (The median is the middle value separating the upper and lower halves of a series of numbers.) This comparison only counts executives whose pay information from both years was available.

The Securities and Exchange Comission requires public companies to disclose annual compensation details for high-level executives.

This is the first year, however, that many large, public companies have been required to compare the compensation of their principal executive to the median compensation of all the other employees in that company.

No. 2 on Long Island's list of highest-paid executives is Richard J. Daly, chief executive of Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., a provider of investor communications and securities processing services. Daly received $9.2 million, a 10.2 percent raise from the previous year.

No median-worker ratio was available for Broadridge because the Lake Success-based company filed its latest executive compensation statement in October, before the new SEC requirements took effect.

Long Island's third highest compensation went to Dan Bodner, president, chairman and chief executive of Verint Systems Inc., a Melville provider of software used by corporate call centers and government intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Bodner's package was worth $8.3 million, up from $7.5 million the previous year and 91 times the median employee's compensation of $90,371.

Joseph R. Ficalora, president and chief executive of Westbury-based New York Community Bancorp Inc., ranked fourth at $7.7 million, down from $11.4 million in 2016. The company's shares fell 14 percent during the year, and the bank failed in an attempt to acquire Astoria Financial, which merged with Sterling Bancorp of Montebello, New York. Ficalora's compensation was 112 times the median employee's $68,578. 

NYCB was the only Long Island company with two executives in the top 10. Senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Robert Wann was No. 8 on the list at $4.1 million.

Also taking a cut in compensation was Stanley M. Bergman, president, chairman and CEO of Henry Schein Inc. The Melville-based distributor of health care products is Long Island's largest public company based on revenue, and one of the region's three representatives on the Standard & Poor's 500 index of large public companies.

Bergman, with Long Island's fifth highest compensation, received $7.2 million, down from $12.6 million in the previous year. The compensation cut — based primarily on a $5 million decline in restricted stock awards — came after shareholders absorbed a 10 percent price decline in 2017 after years of steady gains. The $7.2 million was 101 times the median Henry Schein employee compensation of $71,304.

The compensation of Conor Flynn, CEO of Kimco Realty, a New Hyde Park-based real estate investment trust, fell almost $3.5 million, to $5.6 million. His compensation was 56 times the median Kimco worker pay of nearly $99,000.

The compensation of Philip R. Mays, executive vice president and CFO of Cedar Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust based in Port Washington, fell $2 million to $720,800.

Biospecifics Technologies Corp., a Lynbrook-based pharmaceutical company with five employees, was the public Long Island company that disclosed the lowest CEO-to-worker pay ratio. President and principal executive officer Thomas L. Wegman received compensation worth $403,608, about four times the median worker's compenation of $106,739 at the developer of injectable collagenase treatments, which are used to treat a hand deformity known as Dupuytren's contracture and other conditions.

On Long Island and nationwide, data on CEO pay ratios have been central to debates about the gap in pay between executives and rank-and-file workers.

Charles M. Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, said the disclosure rule eventually will change what he called a flawed, but widely used, method of calculating executive compensation.

"The reason CEO pay has gone up recently is that pay is [calculated] relative to peer companies," he said.

Elson said calculating CEO pay by comparing it with chief executives at peer companies tends to give executive compensation an upward bias. He calls it the "Lake Wobegon effect," an allusion to the "Prairie Home Companion" radio program set in a fictional Minnesota town, where all the children are above average. Elson said corporate board members who structure executive compensation at or above the median level of peer companies base it on the assumption that executives could easily defect to a competitor.

In the real world, he said, executives rarely move to the competition, he said. Executives "don't jump."


Kevin Law, president and chief executive of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, said the SEC's ratio requirement will not have "a significent impact" on morale because workers tend to compare their compensation with colleagues and employees at similar companies.    

Law said that basing compensation on those at peer companies is "useful in attracting and retaining executive talent." Companies increasingly are tying executives' salaries to corporate metrics such as revenue and stock prices, he said.

Manhattan financial analytics firm Calcbench reported that the average compensation for 2,569 CEOs and other top executives in U.S.-based Standard & Poor's 500 companies was $6.8 million. That amount is toward the upper end of the pay Long Island executives received.

One of the biggest paydays nationwide was the $243.9 million — made up almost entirely of stock awards that vest over five years — that went to Marc E. Lore, the CEO, founder and largest shareholder of jet.com. That e-commerce site was acquired by retail giant Walmart Stores Inc. in August 2016 for $3.3 billion.

Lore, now an executive vice president at Walmart, is leading that company's e-commerce business.

His compensation dwarfed the $22.4 million of Walmart president and chief executive C. Douglas McMillon.  Still, McMillon's compensation was 1,188 times the $19,177 median earnings of 2.2 million Walmart employees surveyed out of 2.3 million worldwide.

Other notable compensation packages included those of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, now known as Alphabet Inc. They were paid $1 in compensation as CEO and president, respectively, of the company. Together, the executives own 43 percent Alphabet's Class B stock, which gives them 51 percent of the voting power.

The top of New York City's executive compensation list was dominated by private equity firms.

KKR & Co. L.P. co-chief operating officers Scott C. Nuttall and Joseph Y. Bae earned $144.4 million and $143.9 million, respectively.

They were followed by Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, co-founder and chief executive of The Blackstone Group L.P., at $125.5 million.

Altice USA Inc., which is a part-owner of Newsday, reported that chairman and CEO Dexter G. Goei had total compensation of $53.6 million. In 2017, the cable provider, a unit of Altice N.V., moved from Bethpage to Long Island City, Queens, and staged a $1.9 billion initial public offering.

Michael P. Gregoire, CEO at CA Technologies, the business software maker that moved from Islandia to Manhattan in 2014, earned $11.9 million.

Long Island's most highly compensated woman executive was Karen Prange, a former executive vice president at Henry Schein who earned $3.8 million, placing her at No. 11 overall. She left the company in April.

The next female executive on the list was Robin McBride Zeigler, executive vice president and COO at Cedar Realty Trust Inc. in Port Washington, with $1.3 million in compensation. She was No. 59.

The lone female CEO on the Long Island public company list was Helena Santos, who also serves as president, CFO and treasurer at Bohemia-based Scientific Industries Inc., a maker of mixers, shakers and incubators used in laboratories. She earned $188,500.

The requirement to compare the principal executive's compensation as a ratio of the median employee's earnings was included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

That law, passed in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis and the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, included a package of financial regulations designed to improve transparency and avert future calamities.

Not all Long Island public companies will disclose their pay ratio. The ratio rule does not apply to companies that qualify as smaller reporting companies with less than $75 million in stock in the hands of public investors, annual revenue of less than $50 million, or emerging growth companies with annual gross revenue of less than $1.07 billion and no sales of common equity securities under a registration statement.

Securities lawyer Alon Y. Kapen, a partner at Farrell Fritz in Uniondale, said Dodd-Frank was "enormously controversial." Kapen said critics contended that it was "politicizing securities law," while defenders characterized the law as an attempt to give investors more information. Ultimately, he said, CEO pay should be aligned with the interests of shareholders.

"CEO pay is an issue because he's the guy making all the decisions," he said.

With Caroline Curtin

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