As oil prices soar, Exxon defends Raymond's $400m farewell

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The Independent Online

The oil giant made record profits of $36bn last year, a result that thrilled shareholders but appalled critics of huge corporations.

Even Wall Street, a place not given to worrying about large bonuses, has raised eyebrows about how much of the profits are going to the departing chairman, who has spent 43 years at Exxon, including 12 as chairman.

Proxy statements filed by Exxon to the US Securities & Exchange Commission reveal Mr Raymond was paid $140m last year, including cash, shares and pension payments. He is entitled to a further $258m to fund a lavish retirement that company insiders insist he has earned. He also gets a $1m a year deal to stay on as consultant, a bodyguard, a car and driver and use of a corporate jet.

Sarah Anderson, of the US think-tank the Institute for Policy Studies, said of the pay package: "I think it will spark a lot of outrage. Clearly, much of his high-level pay is due to the high price of gas."

Last November, in hearings before Congress about the future of oil prices, Mr Raymond insisted that other industries had much higher profit margins. He claims that oil companies are targeted by campaigners because they are so large that profits appear to be unfairly high.

Exxon rallied around Mr Raymond yesterday, pointing out that he had turned it into the biggest oil company in the world. A spokesman for the company said the pay was reward for "a very long and distinguished career". The Exxon board's compensation committee includes: Walter Shipley, the former chief executive of Chase Manhattan; James Houghton, the chairman of Corning; William Howell, the chairman of JC Penney; Reatha King, the former chairman of General Mills and Sam Palmisano, the chief executive of IBM.

Some shareholders are trying to pass resolutions criticising Exxon's executive pay awards. Exxon said it will encourage investors to vote against the proposals.