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Cognizant’s ex-CEO made $191 million in 12 years

BENAGALURU: Francisco D’Souza, who stepped down as Cognizant CEO earlier this year, realised $191.4 million in total compensation during his tenure as CEO from 2007, a majority of which came in the form of stocks and options, as per a blogpost by US compensation research firm Equilar.

The figure is substantially more than the $104.3 million reported in the summary compensation table of Cognizant’s annual proxy statements for D’Souza. The difference arises mainly because of the good performance of the stock during the period.

Disclosed equity values are made as of the grant date, while the realised values are made as of the company’s most recent fiscal year end (the end of the evaluation period). So, when the stocks previously granted vest, and if the stock value is higher at that point, the realised pay rises.

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Alex Knowlton, senior research analyst at Equilar, noted that 2016 saw the largest disparity between reported and realised pay, with the realised total for the year nearly four times the amount of the reported pay in the summary compensation table. In 2016, D’Souza’s realised pay was $32.9 million, while the reported pay was $8.3 million.

The realised pay was higher than the reported pay in every year barring in the second year of his CEO tenure – 2008. D’Souza had a phenomenal tenure as CEO, during which time the company’s revenue crossed those of Wipro and Infosys.

During the period, the stock price trended upwards quite sharply, reaching a peak in March 2018.

His compensation would have been heavily tied to performance, and consequently, the stock grants would have been significant. It’s likely that through much of his tenure, he would have earned most of his realisable pay.