Cook gets $22m bonus for keeping Jobs’ seat warm

Apple has awarded its chief operating officer a bonus valued at $22 million for leading the company while chief executive Steve Jobs was on six months’ medical leave.

Cook gets $22m bonus for keeping Jobs' seat warm

The cash-and-stock award came at Jobs’ recommendation, and was made in recognition of Tim Cook’s “outstanding performance in assuming the day-to-day operations” at Apple while Jobs was away, the company said in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Many analysts and investors believe Cook could one day succeed Jobs as CEO at Apple, although the company has never disclosed a succession plan.

Cook has been targeted by other companies, and he’s proven to be very adept and capable at leading Apple

Cook received a $5 million bonus plus restricted stock award worth roughly $17 million, based on Apple’s closing share price of $226.60 on Friday. Half of the stock is scheduled to vest on 10 March 2011, and the other half on 10 March 2012, as long as Cook stays with Apple through those dates.

“The bonus is a reward and is also to stay competitive,” said Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu. “Cook has been targeted by other companies, and he’s proven to be very adept and capable at leading Apple. I think they need to keep the conversation competitive to keep him from getting lured away.”

Health break

Jobs stepped away from his duties in January 2009 for health reasons, although he remained involved in major strategic decisions. Cook took over day-to-day operations. Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, underwent a liver transplant while on leave, returning to the company in late June.

While Jobs was on leave, Apple’s shares surged by roughly 70%.

Cook was named COO in 2005. He is responsible for managing Apple’s supply chain, sales, service and support. He also leads the company’s Mac computer division.

He joined Apple in 1998 as senior vice president of operations. Prior to that he held executive positions at Compaq and IBM.

According to Apple’s proxy statement, Cook received total compensation of roughly $14 million in 2009.

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