Millionaire paychecks: Aflac's Dan Amos leads the local pack with a total package of $13.8 million, followed by CEOs of TSYS, Carmike Cinemas and Synovus

Aflac's Dan Amos leads the local pack with a total package of $13.8 million, followed by CEOs of TSYS, Carmike Cinemas and Synovus

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 3, 2013 

It's the midway point of the 2013 financial year for the four publicly traded companies headquartered in Columbus, with Aflac, Carmike Cinemas, Synovus and TSYS having just wrapped up the second-quarter earnings season.

The companies -- all major employers in the Columbus area -- each reported a profit in the period. They also paid their top executives healthy salaries and pay packages for doing so, albeit at a wide variety of compensation levels.

It's no surprise that Dan Amos, chairman and chief executive officer of Aflac and its duck insurance dynasty, is the top earner among the bunch. The most recent company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show his total compensation package came in at $13.8 million in 2012, starting with a base salary of $1.4 million.

The other locally headquartered CEOs trailed far behind, with TSYS top executive Phil Tomlinson picking up a base salary of $891,000 toward a total package of $4.9 million.

He was followed by Carmike Cinemas President and CEO David Passman, with a total package of $3.1 million, which included base pay of $665,000.

Synovus Chairman, CEO and President Kessel Stelling rounded it out with a total package of $1.9 million, although his base salary of $1.1 million was higher than that of both Tomlinson and Passman.

A 2013 CEO Pay Strategies report issued by Equilar, a Redwood City, Calif.-based firm that researches compensation, said that pay continues to rise for top executives, although with more emphasis on stock incentives tied to company performance.

"The change is not as dramatic as it was several years ago, but CEO compensation is growing at levels last seen prior to the recession," said the report. "This increase can mostly be attributed to the growing stock prices of companies, leading to higher grant-date values on awards year-over-year. What the executives eventually receive will be determined by stock price and financial performance of their companies several years from now."

The Equilar report noted that "Say on Pay" regulations passed by Congress and overseen by the SEC have had an impact, prompting corporations to carefully examine compensation plans that offer both fair pay for top execs, but also accountability for investors.

"The move away from cash and toward greater ownership of the company is helping to incentivize executives to seek long-term returns for their shareholders," it said.

Starting in 2011, the SEC required companies to conduct a "Say on Pay" vote every three years during annual shareholder meetings. The Equilar report said more than 90 percent of pay packages recommended by firms' compensation committees ultimately are approved.

Here's a breakdown of the Columbus CEO's pay packages and perks in 2012:

• Amos earned a base salary of $1,441,100; received no bonus; was awarded $4,458,439 in stock; was paid $5,072,672 in non-equity incentive plan compensation; received a pension value of $2,593,387; and $252,387 in "other" compensation.

The latter category included personal use of company aircraft, valued at $27,950, and security services costing $212,358.

• Tomlinson earned a base salary of $891,000, but with no bonus. He was awarded stock valued at $2,089,438, received option awards of $1,164,533 and non-equity incentive compensation of $767,000.

"Other" perks totaled $46,314, which included an automobile allowance, club dues, personal use of corporate aircraft, a security alarm monitoring system, financial planning services and tax preparation services. Allocations to deferred compensation and defined contribution (retirement) plans were part of this category as well.

• Passman took home a base salary of $665,000 and there also was no bonus. But he was awarded stock valued at $1,327,600 and non-equity incentive compensation of $894,758. There also was a $16,560 gain in the value of his pension plan and deferred compensation.

The "other" category for him totaled $226,795, with more than half of that going into the CEO's deferred compensation plan. The company also paid $4,356 for his group term life insurance premiums; $6,589 for personal use of an automobile; $62,341 for living expenses; and $14,379 for club membership dues.

• Stelling earned a base salary of $1,161,023 and was awarded stocks valued at $583,050. But he did not receive a bonus, stock options or non-equity incentive compensation, all because Synovus remained under the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, a bank bailout initiative that limited what participants' top executives can be paid.

With the regional bank -- parent company of Columbus Bank and Trust -- exiting the program on July 26 by repaying the $968 million it owed, compensation restrictions are now lifted.

Stelling in 2012 did receive "other" compensation totaling $185,195. That included payments by the company to defined contribution and deferred compensation plans. Also in the mix was a $30,055 housing allowance, $6,000 for use of an automobile, transportation service costs of $17,160, a security alarm monitoring service and monthly country club dues.

"Executive bonuses haven't been talked about around here for a long time," Stelling said in an interview the day Synovus repaid TARP.

The CEO downplayed the notion of imminent pay raises and bonuses, instead remarking that everyone in the company had a hand in turning the bank around. But he conceded putting the TARP rules behind the company is welcome.

"It will allow us to run a business that is market-based and not with any other restrictions," he said.

Synovus -- with offices in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee -- reported a profit of nearly $775 million on total revenue of just under $1.4 billion in 2012. That was achieved through the use of an $802 million deferred tax asset generated through three straight years of financial losses. It employs about 1,300 locally.

Aflac, which writes supplemental insurance policies in the U.S. and Japan, racked up an operating profit of $3.1 billion on total revenue of $25.3 billion in 2012. There are about 3,900 on its Columbus payroll.

TSYS, a global processor of credit cards and electronic payments, posted a $244 million profit in 2012 on total revenue of $1.87 billion. More than 4,500 earn a paycheck from the company locally.

Carmike Cinemas, which has about 2,500 movie theaters in 35 states, reported a profit of $96.3 million on total revenue of $539.3 million in 2012. No number was available on its local workforce.

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