Rick Wagoner stepped down as CEO of General Motors with $22.1 million in accumulated pension funds, but he may have to wait a while to get the money.
GM is keeping Wagoner on the payroll at $1 per year while its board of directors decides what to do about releasing the funds to the executive, who stepped down in March at the request of the White House.
"The board is still working out his compensation arrangements, and the government will be consulted in that process," said GM spokeswoman Julie Gibson.
In addition to his pension benefits, Wagoner had $534,627 worth of deferred compensation in a plan similar to a 401(k).
Even if he gets the money, the amount would it would pale compared with what Wagoner could have received if GM were in better financial shape. As of the end of 2008, Wagoner had 4.7 million unexercised stock options, giving him the right to purchase GM shares at prices ranging from $20.90 to $75.50.
In happier times, they could have netted Wagoner a tidy sum. When he became CEO in 2000, GM's stock price was about $70 a share, and the peak price that year was $93.62.
But with the stock at less than $1.50 a share lately, the options aren't worth the paper they're printed on.
"They're all out of the money and worthless," said Alexander Cwirko-Godycki, research manager for Equilar Inc., an executive-compensation research firm. "They represented a significant part of his pay package over the years."
During Wagoner's 17 years as a senior executive, he earned about $9 million by exercising stock options, according to Equilar.
In addition, federal bailout restrictions prevented GM from paying Wagoner severance. Had those restrictions not been in place, the GM board would have had the discretion to award up to $17.1 million in severance, Cwirko-Godycki said.