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Goldman cuts pay of top executives

April 13, 2012: 10:02 AM ET
Blankfein

Pay down for Lloyd Blankfein

Pay is down at Goldman Sachs, but Blankfein still gets $5 million in cash for 2011.

FORTUNE - It's still good to be the king on Wall Street, just less so.

On Friday, Goldman Sachs (GS) said it paid its top five executives 35% less than it did a year ago. The company cut CEO Lloyd Blankfein's pay to $12 million for 2011 from $18 million a year ago.

That knocks Blankfein considerably down the ranks of Wall Street's most highly compensated CEOs. He made nearly less than half the $23 million that rival JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon took home in 2011. Even Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup (C), long considered a laggard on Wall Street, got paid $2 million more for 2011 than Blankfein. Citigroup gave Pandit a 14,000,000% raise last year.

By all accounts, 2011 was a rough one for Goldman. Earnings fell 47%. It's stock dropped a similar amount. Goldman also eliminated 2,400 jobs from its payrolls. In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission told Goldman it was likely to bring charges against the firm for its role in a late-2006 mortgage bond offering that cost investors including Freddie Mac more than $500 million in losses. "Throughout 2011, our firm's performance was challenged by instability in the Eurozone, depressed client activity and regulatory uncertainty," wrote Blankfein and Goldman's other board members in a letter to shareholders.

Still, Blankfein's pay included $5 million in cash, including a $3 million bonus. The rest was in restricted stock. That was a much higher ratio of cash to restricted stock than the pay packages of other CEOs. Also, when you factor in the deferred compensation that Blankfein has received in the past two years, the CEO's total pay jumps to $16.2 million for 2011, which was up from the $14 million that he received the year before.

What's more, none of those figures include a long-term incentive plan that could reap Blankfein and Goldman's other top executives as much as $10.5 million each if the bank is able to meet earnings goals over next two years, including a 15% return on equity. Some shareholders have said Goldman set easy targets. The company's ROE has averaged 19% for the much of the past decade.

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About This Author
Stephen Gandel
Stephen Gandel

Stephen Gandel has covered Wall Street and investing for over 15 years. He joins Fortune from sister publication TIME, where he was a senior business writer and lead blogger for The Curious Capitalist. He has also held positions at Money and Crain's New York Business. Stephen is a four-time winner of the Henry R. Luce Award. His work has also been recognized by the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the New York State Society of CPA and the Association of Area Business Publications. He is a graduate of Washington University, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

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