- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - The chief executive of the country’s second-largest railroad received total compensation valued at $14.6 million in 2008, a 16 percent increase from the year before, according to a proxy statement filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the filing, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. said Chairman, President and CEO Matthew K. Rose received a base salary of $1.18 million in 2008, up from $1.13 million the year before. He also received a performance-related cash bonus of nearly $1.7 million, compared with $610,720 in 2007.

Rose’s perks were valued at $176,013 _ more than double the year before. Perks included travel on a corporate jet for himself and his family, and a tax reimbursement related to that travel. But the biggest chunk of this category was $137,781 for company contributions to Rose’s 401(k) and supplemental retirement plans.

He also received $1,606 in above-market returns on compensation he’d set aside with the company. Rose, 49, has served in his current roles since March 2002.

The largest portion of his compensation package _ $11.58 million _ was in the form of stock options and restricted stock. However, the awards have exercise prices of $105.23 and $111.56, about double the company’s current stock price. That means the awards are currently of little value absent a substantial rebound in stock price.

The Associated Press formula is designed to isolate the value the company’s board placed on the executive’s total compensation package during the last fiscal year. It includes salary, bonus, performance-related bonuses, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations don’t include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC, which reflect the size of the accounting charge taken for the executive’s compensation in the previous fiscal year.

Higher shipping prices and cheaper fuel in the second half of the year drove the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad’s 2008 profit up 16 percent in 2008, despite weaker freight demand. Revenue was $18.02 billion, up 14 percent from the year before.

Burlington Northern’s stock lost about 11 percent during the year _ closing the year at $74.53. But shipping demand has fallen off sharply since December, and railroad stocks have taken a beating since. Burlington Northern shares ended Friday at $55.41.

Recently, the company said it doesn’t feel that freight demand will get much worse, although it’s still unclear when it will get better. The railroad has already furloughed 2,500 workers to account for the lack of shipments. It said it will continue to rein in costs to prepare for a long and deep recession.

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