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Zynga, Ralph Lauren: Most Outrageous Acts of Corporate America

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Every month The Daily Ticker brings you some of the most outrageous acts in corporate America thanks to Michelle Leder and her team at Footnoted.com who tirelessly comb through pages and pages of corporate SEC filings.

Leder joins Aaron Task in the accompanying interview to discuss what were July's highlights (or lowlights) in executive pay.

#1 Ralph Lauren Really Is King

Fashion designer Ralph Lauren, king of high-end apparel and housewares, has been granted a $500,000 pay raise, bringing his total salary to $1.75 million a year. That's a big increase especially since Ralph Lauren (RL) stock is down 7 percent in the last six months.

Lauren got more than just a pay increase. He's also now "entitled to an annual stock award" of up to $14 million, depending on his performance through the end of his contract in 2017. One-third of the grant will be in stock options and the other two-thirds will be in restricted stock units.

On top of all that, his target bonus is an additional $9 million. According to a recent filing, his total compensation last year totaled more than $36 million in fiscal 2012, up roughly $6 million from the previous year.

#2 Activision Blizzard's Big CEO Bonus

On July 5 gaming company Activision Blizzard filed a SEC filing detailing a new $15 million bonus payment for Co-Chairman Brian Kelly in the event the company is bought. Activision (ATVI) makes the popular "Call of Duty" video game.

While $15 million is significant in and of itself, what is more surprising is the fact that the filing coincided with news that Vivendi, which owns 60 percent of the stock company, was looking for a buyer.

Do you think that passes the smell test? Leder does not.

Shares of the company fell 4 percent last Friday after reports that Vivendi has not been able to secure a buyer.

#3 Zynga Falters, But CEO Gains Power

Now to Zynga (ZNGA), one of a handful of social media companies to go public in the last year. Its stock has fallen dramatically from its $10 IPO price on Dec. 16, closing below $3 last Friday.

At the end of last month, the online gaming site reported dismal quarterly earnings. That same day, in a separate filing, the company disclosed that CEO Mark Pincus now controls more than 50 percent of the company's voting rights. Zynga did not publicize this news.

"Given the earnings news, Pincus can either view this as very good timing (being a controlled company certainly has its perks, like not really having to listen to shareholders), or very bad, since more of a sinking ship isn't always a good thing," writes Leder in a blog post.

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