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Director Compensation is on the Rise

Data from the 30 largest public companies based in Minnesota, taken from the 2008 Minnesota Board Index compiled by executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

The annual retainer paid to corporate directors averaged $56,717 in 2008, up from $50,400 in 2007. Among S&P 500 companies nationally in 2008, the average was $74,872.

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Total annual compensation for S&P 500 directors in 2008, including stock and stock options, averaged $217,674. No parallel average was calculated in the Minnesota index, though compensation details are given for individual companies.

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Per-meeting fees paid to directors averaged $1,858 in 2008, almost identical to the 2007 average of $1,863. In the national sample of S&P 500s, the 2008 average was $2,036.

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Payment of board- or committee-meeting attendance fees is declining both nationally and in Minnesota, where 50 percent of companies paid fees in 2008 compared with 70 percent in 2003.

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Most (80 percent) of companies paid additional or higher fees to audit committee chairs, and 40 percent paid additional or higher fees to audit committee members than to other directors in 2008. That’s up dramatically from 17 percent and 3 percent respectively in 2003. Likewise, more companies are beginning to pay more to their compensation committee chairs. Those Minnesota trends follow national trends.

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