Among the CEOs of America's 100 largest public companies, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK-B) was paid the least last year. He was the only CEO on the list to make less than $1 million. He was also the CEO of the largest company on the list, based on 2016 revenue.
The rank of CEO pay comes from the Equilar 100, a list prepared using proxy statements through April 1. Equilar is a data provider for company boards. It puts out an update of its list in May, called the Equilar 200, to catch companies that file proxies later in the year. The second list is published in a joint venture with The New York Times.
Buffett made $487,881 last year, up 6% from 2015. This included all compensation as defined by the SEC. Among the components are base salary, cash bonuses, stock awards, stock options, retirement payments and perks.
Buffett's pay is well below the average among the 100 companies measured. The median for 2016 was $15.0 million, up from $14.5 million the previous year.
Berkshire had revenue of $223 billion last year. Number two on the Equilar 100 based on total revenue, Apple Inc. (AAPL), posted $215 billion in sales. CEO Tim Cook was also among the lowest paid CEOs included, with total compensation of $8.75 million.
The second lowest paid CEO on the list was Sears Holding Corp.'s (SHLD) CEO Edward Lampert, with total compensation of $3.84 million. Like Buffett, he is his company's founder, having created Sears Holdings in 2005 by combining the assets of Sears and Kmart. Berkshire Hathaway was a textile company started in 1839. However, Buffett in 1964 remade it into the cornerstone of his conglomerate that now includes subsidiaries from insurance operations to railroads. Berkshire also holds large positions in other public companies, like IBM and Wells Fargo. Among the reasons for Lampert's low pay is almost certainly the disintegration of the retailer, which has led outsiders to speculate it cannot stay in business.
The highest paid CEO on the list was Thomas Rutlegde of cable company Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR). He made $98 million last year, while Charter's revenue for the year was $29 billion. Charter bought Time Warner Cable last year to become the second largest cable company in the United States after Comcast. Most of his package was from stock option grants.