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It is obscene that Lee Raymond has been allowed to take ExxonMobil for about $600 million over 12 years.

And it raises the question of what Boston-based fund managers, who control the purse strings, plan to do to stop this legalized looting of American private investors.

As we reported last week, Raymond, 67, will retire this year as Exxon chairman and CEO with around $520 million in shares, options and a pension fund, at least $45 million more in past option profits, and tens of millions on top of that in salary and other goodies.

It works out to about $47 million a year since 1993.

You think he earned this?

Raymond is not an entrepreneur who risked his career and his life savings. He did not start this company or rescue it from oblivion.

This is not Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway or Paul Fireman at Reebok. He is not Steve Jobs at Apple or even Lee Iacocca at Chrysler.

Running a big company like Exxon isn't quite the superhuman task the CEOs like to pretend.

They have thousands of staff to do the work, management consultants to do their thinking and the top Wall Street lawyers and bankers to do their deals.

People in the executive compensation racket like to argue that you have to pay the big bucks to get top performance.


Of course Exxon stock under Raymond has outperformed the market. There's an oil boom. The more important question is: how has it done against other big oil companies?

Look at total shareholder returns since April 1993.

BP has done better than Exxon. So has Total. So has Occidental. So has Eni, the Italian national oil company, since its shares went public in early 1995.

London-based BP, arguably the closest competitor, has done an astonishing 50 percent better. And the CEO, Lord Browne, only charged his shareholders about $14 million a year for the privilege.

There's something wrong when U.S. tycoons behave more like aristocrats than a British aristocrat.

Despite his outlandish fortune, Raymond even billed shareholders $46,000 last year for his membership dues at private clubs.

That's a lot of fees. Makes you wonder just how hard this guy was working.

Shareholders also paid for Raymond to take a private jet on all personal trips as well as business ones.

The reason? ``Security,' of course.

Ha ha.

It's heartening to know that Raymond's kids, grandkids and great-grandkids will never have to work a day in their lives.

To minimize the amount he'll have to pay Uncle Sam, Raymond got $101,000 worth of tax ``advice' in the last three years. And shareholders paid for that, too.

It's beyond a joke.

It's no surprise the invertebrates on the Exxon board let him get away with this. It's not their money.

But why do the mutual fund companies allow this?

Based on the comparison with Lord Browne at BP, they let Raymond overcharge them by more than $400 million.

Ned Johnson at Fidelity, Perry Traquina at Wellington, Ron Logue at State Street, Ed Haldeman at Putnam: they and their managers' funds control 9 percent of Exxon stock, enough to put up a tough fight over the next CEO's pay package. It's time they did.
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