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May 3, 2010

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Triple pay takes Kraft boss to top of female list

IRENE Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods was the highest-paid female executive in 2009 and one of 15 women CEOs on the annual list of the heads of the 500 biggest companies in the United States, according to

Rosenfeld, 56, jumped to top slot by nearly tripling her compensation package to US$16.7 million. She had the third highest pay last year.

Andrea Jung, of Avon Products, fell to fifth place, with US$9.1 million, from first place last year, when she had a total one-year compensation of US$11.8 million.

"Women are being paid on their current business performance, in salary and bonus, and yielding long-term wealth accumulation opportunities," said Pearl Meyer, a senior director at executive compensation firm Steven Hall & Partners.

Still, women account for only 3 percent of CEOs at the helm of the biggest 500 US companies, a statistic that has not changed much over the last three years.

Susan Ivey, of tobacco company Reynolds American came in second at US$11.8 million, followed by Carol Meyrowitz, of retail chain TJX Cos with US$11.1 million, Indra Nooyi, of PepsiCo at US$10.7 million and Jung, the list at showed.

Debra A. Cafaro, of real estate investment trust Ventas which owns hospitals and medical offices and could benefit from the health care reform bill, came in at No. 7 in the list of highest-paid female executives.

The list of chief executives of the 500 biggest companies in the US is based on composite ranking of sales, profits, assets and market value.

Rosenfeld launched a hostile takeover of British candy maker Cadbury over the past year, her fourth as CEO. She increased her total compensation package, which includes salary, bonus, stock and options in 2009, to US$16.7 million, against US$5.7 million in 2008, said.

By comparison, the top-paid CEO overall in 2008 was Lawrence Ellison, of Oracle. He was paid US$557 million in 2008, according to last year's list.

Rosenfeld runs the largest US food manufacturer. Her compensation is on par with male peers at other food companies such as Kellogg and General Mills.

The US$19 billion Kraft-Cadbury deal angered British lawmakers and drew the ire of Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway is Kraft's largest investor.


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