April 28, 2010 / 10:04 PM / 9 years ago

Kraft's Rosenfeld is top paid female CEO in U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods was the highest paid female executive in 2009 and one of 15 women CEOs on the annual list of the heads of the 500 biggest companies in the U.S., according to Forbes.com.

Rosenfeld, 56, jumped to the top slot by nearly tripling her compensation package to $16.7 million. She had the third highest pay last year.

Andrea Jung, of Avon Products, fell to fifth place, with $9.1 million, versus first place last year, when she had a total one-year compensation of $11.8 million.

“Women are being paid on their current business performance, in salary and bonus, and yielding on long-term wealth accumulation opportunities,” said Pearl Meyer, a senior managing director at executive compensation firm Steven Hall & Partners.

Still, women account for only 3 percent of the CEOs at the helm of the biggest 500 U.S. companies, a statistic that has not changed much over the last three years.

Susan Ivey, of tobacco company Reynolds American came in second at $11.8 million, followed by Carol Meyrowitz, of retail chain TJX Cos with $11.1 million, Indra Nooyi, of PepsiCo at $10.7 million and Andrea Jung, the list at www.Forbes.com/ceos showed.

Debra A. Cafaro, of real estate investment trust Ventas which owns hospitals and medical offices and could benefit from the healthcare reform bill, came in at No.7 in the list of highest-paid female executives.

The list of the chief executives of the 500 biggest companies in the U.S. is based on composite ranking of sales, profits, assets and market value.

Rosenfeld launched a hostile takeover of British candy maker Cadbury over the past year, her fourth as CEO. She increased her total compensation package, which includes salary, bonus, stock and options in 2009, to $16.7 million, versus $5.7 million in 2008, Forbes.com said.

By comparison, the top paid CEO overall in 2008 was Lawrence Ellison, of Oracle. He was paid $557 million in 2008, according to last year’s list.

Rosenfeld runs the largest U.S. food manufacturer. Her compensation is on par with male peers at other food companies such as Kellogg and General Mills.

The $19 billion Kraft-Cadbury deal angered British lawmakers and drew the ire of Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway is Kraft’s largest investor. Rosenfeld is moving forward and plans to use Cadbury’s distribution network in India and Mexico to sell more Kraft products, Forbes.com said.

Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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