Everyone knows that chief executives at public companies are overpaid by the corporate boards they keep in their hip pockets. Afterall, the Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times business writer Gretchen Morgenson tells them so every chance she gets. In fact, they are so overpaid that a lot of them are fleeing to privately held companies…obviously out of embarrassment at their ill-gotten gains. Or, you know, maybe not.
Here's Steven Kaplan writing on the Harvard Law School Corporate Governance Blog:
Consider what this exodus of talented public company executives to private equity-funded companies means. These executives can certainly get hired as CEOs of public companies. If they were so overpaid, they would not leave the public companies. The fact is that many of them are leaving to run private equity-funded companies.
This also suggests that CEOs do not control their boards and get the boards to overpay them. On the contrary, the fact that CEOs are leaving suggests that public company boards may not be paying their good CEOs enough. I am encouraged because it may finally have become apparent, even to the New York Times, that U.S. CEOs, boards, and corporate governance are subject to market forces. In addition to the fact that public-company CEOs can earn more as private-equity company CEOs, here are a few additional observations that suggest that the criticism of CEOs and boards may have gone too far.
Are CEOs of U.S. Public Companies Really Overpaid? [HarLaCorGov blog]