Houston's 100 top paid executives: database online

We published our annual survey of Houston’s top paid executives Sunday, which shows the average pay package in 2006 for the top 100 was down about 10 percent from 2005 but still a hefty $6.2 million.
This year for the first time we’ve given readers access to the full list of some 500 executives, culled from proxy statements. It’s searchable by name and company although the order of the columns is different from in the paper. It should be no surprise that 80 of the 100 top executives are in the energy business.
This is the first year under new Securities and Exchange Commission rules that require more disclosure of how boards of directors award bonuses and what executive pension and severance packages look like. The firm that compiled the data for us, Longnecker & Associates, used a slightly different formula from that the companies use to reach the final pay number. This makes the figures more accurately reflect pay for a given year. We explain the method here.
Company’s rarely make executives available to talk about the pay packages — I’ve had CEOs call in the past to say how much they hate the survey and hope I leave them out. This year was different because Nabors Industries’ Eugene Isenberg actually called to talk. I believe the size of the potential parting package ($525 million) combined with a dip in the company’s stock last year (but not its performance) may have been part of the willingness to talk.
Isenberg’s pay package is largely based on a formula set up 20 years ago when he and a handful of others took over the then-troubled company. It went from days when no rigs were running and millions of dollars in losses to a company with a market cap of nearly $10 billion and net income of more than $1 billion last year.
Isenberg has regularly turned down much of the annual bonus he is eligible for. He said the severance package will likely change but that his interests are still aligned with shareholders since he has a huge stake in the company with stock and options.
Nabors board member Martin Whitman, Chairman of Third Avenue Fund, also shared some of the boards philosphy on pay to the Chronicle in an e-mail:

Management competence ought to be judged by a lot more than relatively short run stock market prices. Appraisal of management needs at least three elements:
i Operating performance
ii Financiers accessing capital markets
iii Employing and redeploying corporate assets, i.e. how sound have long term cap expenditures been?
Against this three pronged background, comparative analysis includes a lot more than just the oil services industry. For example, Mr. Isenberg’s compensation, and Mr. Petrello’s compensation, is modest vis-a-vis investment bankers, and private equity general partners.

As expected, the reader discussion has been heated, if you look at the links below the stories online.