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Pay for CEOs continued its climb in 2005

NEW YORK -- More companies are listening to investors' criticism that they overpay chief executives, but that doesn't mean businesses have responded. Chief executive pay continued to climb in 2005, although not nearly as rapidly as in recent years, new surveys show. The median pay to chief executives rose 11.3 percent, according to a survey of more than 550 companies by The Corporate Library, a governance firm.

For chief executives at the largest firms, however, pay rose 3.7 percent to a median of $5.2 million.

The size of the typical chief executive's raise varied greatly, and overall figures obscure wide variations. A closer look at individual companies shows that more than one in four granted their chief executives raises of at least 25 percent, according to a survey of nearly 200 large firms by compensation analyst Equilar Inc.

The newest raises mean the average chief executive pay at a Standard & Poor's 500 firm is now 430 times that of the average US worker's, or more than 10 times what the gap was in 1980, according to the AFL-CIO.

The largest payouts went to those cashing in huge numbers of stock options. Tops on that list: Richard D. Fairbank, of Capital One Financial Corp., He earned no salary or bonus but was paid almost entirely in a grant of new options this year, valued at over $18 million. That paled with his $249.3 million last year.

AT&T Inc. paid chief executive Edward E. Whitacre $17.1 million last year. That brought his total pay over the past five years to more than $85 million.

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