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As Pay Falls, CEOs Get More Perks

Fort Worth, Texas-based XTO Energy gave $3.4 million to Baylor University to help build a new sports complex. It was the second installment of a total $6.8 million pledge made in 2007 to supplement now retired CEO Bob Simpson's own $3.2 million donation to his alma mater.

XTO's generosity extended to an unnamed school that Simpson's children attend. It got a $775,000 donation in 2008, the fourth installment of a $3.1 million gift. A company spokesman did not return a call for comment.

On the other hand, some companies are increasingly using so-called perk allowances, basically cash that executives can dip into at their liking for the perks they want. For example, Tyco International CEO Edward Breen was given a $70,000 cash perk in 2008 while Reynolds American Inc. CEO Susan Ivey got $29,000 in cash to replace an old executive perks program.

While plenty of companies were still willing to dole out generous perks, compensation advisers say there has been a slight pullback in certain benefits that seem to incite the most public outrage. Ira Kay, director of compensation consulting for Watson Wyatt, called perks a major "irritant" to shareholders.

Some companies are changing their perks policies. Verizon Communications Inc. will no longer offer free jet travel to CEOs once they have retired, starting with its current chief executive. Past CEOs can still fly for free.

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