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It's that time of the year, when high-flying executives and 80-hour-work-week overachievers await to find out exactly how much extra they're going to make with the "13th check." Despite Occupy Wall Street protestations, the income inequality between top earners and bottom employees continues to rise, with JC Penney's CEO making about 1,800 times more than the stock room boy. Here are 10 annual bonuses that will make you think twice about keeping your job.
1.) REAL ESTATE: Michael Farrel, CEO of real estate investment trust (REIT) Annaly Capital Management pocketed just over $29 million worth of equity in 2013, on top of his $3 million salary.
2.) ENTERTAINMENT: CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves got $27.5 million bonuses each year for 2011 and 2012. But his overall compensation was actually down for the second year in a row: a meager $62.2 million.
3.) GAMING: Activision Blizzard (the company behind Guitar Hero and Call of Duty) awarded its CEO Bobby Kotick a $7 million annual bonus last year, even though the company is still only the second-largest gaming company in the world after Nintendo (who slashed their execs' bonuses by 20 percent last year).
4.) MOBILE CARRIER: Despite (or because of?) dropped calls, horrific cancellation penalties, and curious "other charges" on your bills, AT&T continues to be a major player in the U.S. mobile phone market, and it's grateful to its CEO Randall Stephenson to the tune of $6 million in annual bonuses (and $21 million overall package).
5.) MIXED BUSINESS ARTS: Former CEO Ian Cumming's contribution merited a $27.5 million bonus last year from his employer Leucadia National Corp., the business conglomerate equivalent of a mixed martial arts fighter: the company has bought investment bank Jefferies Group LLC and owns real estate and a ton of other stuff, including a beef processor.
6.) INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT: Cummings has been compared to Warren Buffet and his company nicknamed Baby Berkshire, so it's relevant to note that the annual bonus of 82-year-old Mr. Buffet - the fourth richest man in the world - is $0. His salary is $100,000. He does, however, own 21% of the $260 billion Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and has been extremely critical of non-performance-based compensation. Which is why he awarded an estimated $27 million each to his top two portfolio managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.
7.) BANKING: This year's bonuses might be much smaller, due to new regulations limiting executive compensations, as well as a growing number of shareholders participating in so-called Say on Pay votes that limit execs' compensation or tie it to performance (although executives need not panic: in 2012, less than 3% of companies have failed to convince shareholders that your salaries are entirely deserved). Banks in the European Union, following a 10-month negotiation with regulators, have been forced to cap their annual bonuses at a maximum of one year's salary. Ever optimistic, however, London bankers expect their 2014 bonuses to rise as high as 44%. And although most big banks are actually planning to cut their year-end bonuses, here's the kicker: despite Goldman Sachs' plans to CUT its compensation by 5%, it will still dole out an average of $320,000 per head, while JPMorgan's 5% cut means that the average employee - and this includes secretaries and the tech guy - will this year receive a lowly average of… $166,000. Overall, big banks plan to give out $91.44 billion in 2013 bonuses.
8.) OIL & GAS (and geothermal): Anthony Petrello's bonus was $17.5 million last year for his CEO work at the tax-friendly-Bermuda-based Nabors Industries, and this despite his company's stock continuing to fall during 2012 and despite a reduction in CEO pay at the company. This year, his bonus will be capped at a measly $3.4 million.
9.) PERSONAL COMPUTERS: For those who have not transitioned to Galaxies and iPhones for personal computing needs, Lenovo is a big brand: the Beijing/North Carolina-based company recently overtook Hewelett-Packard Co. as the largest maker of personal computers, and has even acquired IBM's ThinkPad laptop brand. Its chairman Yang Yuanqing was awarded around $13 million in bonuses last year, on top of his $1.2 million salary and 7.2% stake in the $720 million company. But Yuanging didn't spend all of it on yachts and courtside season tickets: he shared $3.25 million of his bonus with 10,000 Lenovo staff around the world. At $300 a pop, it's right around the amount you'd need to buy a new Lenovo netbook.
10.) INTERNET: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was charged with turning the company around, or, really, make it more like Google, her previous employer. Yahoo was so happy with her work that they gave her a $1.1 million bonus last year - and that's just for the first 5.5 months at the head of the company. (And if you think that's rather low compared to the more boring industries, think again: the bonus merely "supplements" her $1 million salary and $56 million in long-term stock compensation).
If your bonus is not quite so high, don't despair. Despite the tens of millions of dollars made by CEOs and other executives in annual bonuses, these aren't the guys (and they are overwhelmingly male, aren't they?) who reap in the big bucks. The top 10 earners among U.S. CEOs took home a minimum of $100 million each last year. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg took the lead with over $2 billion (that's plus or minus $6 million a day). The CEO of energy company Kinder Morgan took home $1.1 billion. But it wasn't from the annual bonuses, nor even their salaries: Zickerberg's salary was a modest $503,000, while Morgan's base salary in 2012 was a symbolic $1. No, these guys made their money primarily from selling stock. In fact, of the $4.7 billion the top 10 CEOs took home in 2012, only $16.2 million was in cash bonuses.