May 29, 2024 - News

The Triangle's highest-paid CEOs

Arrow chart showing the change in total compensation for highest-paid Triangle-area CEOs from 2022 to 2023. The highest-paid CEO was Ari Bousbib of IQVIA at $29.2 million in 2023. Out of the top 10 highest-paid CEOs, two saw their total compensation decrease from 2022 to 2023. 2023 was the first year that compensation was reported for Tom Pike and Shane O'Kelly.
Note: Total compensation includes base salary, stock/options, bonuses and perks. 2023 was the first year that compensation was reported for Tom Pike and Shane O'Kelly. Data: SEC filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Compensation levels for CEOs hit new heights last year, but they were more of a mixed bag for leaders of some of the Triangle's largest companies.

State of play: Of the 24 publicly traded Triangle companies surveyed by Axios, 11 of their CEOs received pay increases in 2023 and 11 saw decreases, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

  • Two were new to the job and didn't have a 2022 salary to compare.

The big picture: These Triangle CEOs are still paid substantially, with their average total compensation coming in at $7.2 million.

  • Most of that compensation, however, comes in the form of stocks grants, which are tied to the company's performance on the stock market.
  • Those grants help to push CEO pay well beyond the wages of other employees. Raleigh car parts dealer Advance Auto Parts, for instance, paid its two CEOs 568 times the company's median wage of $23,923 — the largest spread reported by a Triangle firm in 2023.

By the numbers: Despite seeing his total compensation fall last year, Ari Bousbib, of Durham clinical research firm IQVIA, remains the highest-paid CEO of a public company in the Triangle, with a total compensation package of $29.2 million.

  • The second highest-paid CEO was also in the clinical research field, with LabCorp's spinout Fortrea giving Tom Pike an initial salary package worth $26.3 million. (Pike was previously CEO of Durham's Quintiles before it merged with IMS Health to form IQVIA.)
  • Also new to the list this year is Shane O'Kelly, whom Advance Auto Parts hired to turn around the retailer's finances. O'Kelly, a former Home Depot executive, received a $9.4 million package to replace former CEO Tom Greco.

Frank Holding Jr., the CEO of First Citizens Bank and a new entrant to North Carolina's billionaire club, saw his compensation package grow 24% to $10 million last year.

Gregg Lowe, who is overseeing's Durham semiconductor maker Wolfspeed's $5 billion factory expansion in Chatham County, saw his compensation grow 34.4% to $12.5 million.

The intrigue: Many of the Triangle's largest employers are privately held companies, startups or satellite offices for firms headquartered elsewhere — making it harder to know how their compensation levels compare.

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