Last week, the Economist asked the question in the title of its article about excessive corporate compensation – Will Shareholders Halt the Inexorable Rise of CEO Pay? Today, a clear majority of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shareholders in what is called a “say-on-pay” vote, gave a big “thumbs down” to the company’s plan to pay its CEO Frank Del Rio $36,400,000 million for 2020, according to a Miami Herald article published this afternoon.
Herald Reporter Taylor Dolven wrote “in a rare rebuke, 83% of shareholders did not approve the company’s executive compensation in a non-binding vote” today. The newspaper cited Luis Navas, an executive compensation adviser, describing the vote as “incredibly embarrassing.”
Yes, its should be embarrassing, but that assumes this cruise executive is capable of feeling shame. Even before the pandemic, CEO Del Rio was the poster child of a spoiled, overpaid cruise executive in an industry where companies incorporate in places like Liberia (Royal Caribbean) and register their cruise ships in places like (Panama) and the Bahamas (NCL) in order to avoid all U.S. income taxes and wage and labor laws.
In March, we wrote about CEO Del Rio’s obscenely high compensation during a year when NCL laid off thousands of crew members and shoreside employees, in an article titled Stock Awards During a Deadly Pandemic? NCL’s CEO Frank Del Rio Rakes in $36,400,000 in 2020 While Crew Members Struggle.
A more accurate statement: NCL CEO Del Rio's obscene $36,400,000 income in 2020 while Del Rio mocked the @CDCgov, & #cruise lines avoided all US taxes & wage laws is illustrative of why #cruise industry should not be entitled to special favors from US Gov https://t.co/xM3dPmVoSF pic.twitter.com/X8FeiTAmZV
— James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) March 27, 2021
Not only was he the highest paid cruise executive, but CEO Del Rio was also the most persistently disrespectful of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the most likely to mock the CDC’s COVID-19 related health and safety protocols.
NCLH CEO insults @CDC gov guidelines, says their "un-American" https://t.co/W3q1MCe8T2 Coming from filthy rich president of @CruiseNorwegian #cruise line which doesn't pay US taxes, or follow US wages or labor laws by incorporating in Bermuda & registering cruise ships in Bahamas pic.twitter.com/Z0IE3Xw3BM
— James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) May 9, 2021
CEO Del Rio is by far the highest paid cruise executive in the world. In the last three years alone, Del Rio took home over $76,000,000 in income. Including his 2015 income of $31,900,000, he collected over $108,000,000 for four years, including $22,590,000 in 2018, $17,808,000 in 2019,and $36,400,000 in 2020.
In 2018, Del Rio’s compensation of $22,590,000 was over one thousand times more than the median wages of a NCL crew member who earned an annual income of a little less than $17,000 according to information submitted to the SEC by NCL. A NCL median employee was defined in SEC filings as a “full-time employee located on one of the NCL ships with an annual total compensation of $16,925 for 2019.” This resulted in a compensation ratio between CEO Del Rio and a median crew members of “1,052 to 1” for 2018, according to the SEC filing.
Considering that the average crew member in 2020 probably collected only around $4,000 until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its first no-sail order in March, CEO Del Rio’s $36,400,000 results in a compensation ratio with a median crew members of well over 9,000 to 1.
How many NCL crew members must work +12 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 30 days a month for 8 months without a day of vacation in order for CEO Del Rio to collect + $22,000,000 a year? https://t.co/MamkTBIp19 how many @CruiseNorwegian #cruise customers must be nickel-and-dimed? pic.twitter.com/MgLWPrh9Tq
— James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) July 4, 2019
Last year, NCL suffered a net loss of $4,000,000,000 (billion) compared to net income in 2019 of $930,200,000. As of December 31, 2020, NCL had total debt of $11,800,000,000 (billion) and cash of only $3,300,000,000. NCL is facing a cash burn rate of $190,000,000 a month,
As the Miami Herald points out, it’s no wonder that 83% of NCLH shareholders voted against the huge executive pay. But that still leaves 17% of shareholders who thought that the compensation was somehow reasonable and justified. The shareholder vote is non-binding on the corporation’s directors. I would expect this cruise executive to to fight to keep every penny of his excessive compensation.
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Image credit: CNBC