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Pay czar says the title is misleading

Associated Press / October 1, 2009

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CHICAGO - The Obama administration’s pay czar says negotiations over executive compensation with the seven companies that received the biggest federal bailouts have been “a consensual process’’ - not a matter of forcing decisions on them.

“I’m hoping I won’t be required to simply make a determination over company objections,’’ veteran Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg told the Chicago Bar Association in a speech.

He said he hopes that when he announces pay levels for 175 top executives by Oct. 30 the seven companies will consider them fair and based on principle.

Feinberg, technically a special master at the Treasury Department, said he doesn’t like the informal pay czar title, emphasizing he is working with the companies, not dictating to them.

He said pay levels need to allow the companies to be competitive, performance-based, and geared to keeping executives in their jobs for the long haul.

The seven companies are American International Group, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler, and Chrysler Financial.

Feinberg is required by law to set pay levels for the top 25 executives at each of the bailed-out companies.

He also must set up the pay structure, although not individual amounts of pay, for the other executives in the top 100 at the seven companies.