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Google co-founders take symbolic US$1

AP, SAN FRANCISCO

Google Inc paid co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin their customary US$1 salaries last year while executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s compensation more than doubled to US$19.3 million.

Most of Schmidt’s raise stemmed from stock grants valued at US$11.4 million. Google issued them to make up for an administrative error in the handling of another award given to Schmidt in February 2011, according to US regulatory documents filed on Friday.

If not for the mix-up, Schmidt’s pay package last year would have risen 4 percent from the US$7.6 million that he got in 2012.

Page, Google’s chief executive, and Brin, another top executive, have insisted on capping their salaries at US$1 annually since Google Inc went public nearly a decade ago. It is a symbolic gesture that many other Silicon Valley executives have made after amassing fortunes through the stock that they held in their companies.

Page, 41, and Brin, 40, each own Google stock currently worth about US$26 billion.

Schmidt, 58, has accumulated wealth estimated at US$9 billion by Forbes magazine. He also limited his salary to US$1 annually while he was chief executive.

The pay scale has changed dramatically since Schmidt turned over the chief executive job to Page three years ago. In 2011, Schmidt received compensation valued at US$101 million, with most of the money tied up in restricted stock designed to keep him working at Google. Last month, Google disclosed that Schmidt is receiving another stock award valued at US$100 million this year.

As Google’s executive chairman, Schmidt primarily deals with regulatory issues, government relationships and company acquisitions. The company thought Schmidt did such a good job last year that he received his maximum cash bonus of US$6 million to supplement his US$1.25 million salary.

No other Google executive listed in the proxy statement qualified for the maximum bonus last year.

Google and its stockholders fared well last year. The company’s earnings climbed 20 percent from the previous year to US$12.9 billion and its stock price gained 58 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index increased by 30 percent last year.

The Associated Press formula calculates an executive’s total compensation during the last fiscal year by adding salary, bonuses, perks, above-market interest that the company pays on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock and stock options awarded during the year. The AP formula does not count changes in the present value of pensions, a benefit that Google and most other technology companies do not provide.

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