For Occidental Petroleum CEO Chazen, It Pays to Forgo Vacations

  • Outgoing chief to get at least $1.8 million, 2015 filing shows
  • Chazen payout based on no limit vacation accrual policy

Stephen Chazen’s reluctance to take vacation will cost Occidental Petroleum Corp. shareholders at least $1.82 million when he retires as chief executive officer, company filings show.

When the oil explorer said on Feb. 18 it would pay him for unused vacation, it didn’t disclose the amount. But the company’s 2015 proxy filing shows that figure was almost $2 million as of Dec. 31, 2014. That’s more than his current base salary and the highest among CEOs for Standard & Poor’s 100 Index companies that report pent-up vacation figures, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Many executives shun the beach and hoard time off. Walter Robb and John Mackey, co-CEOs of Whole Foods Market Inc., had $686,520 and $456,269 in accrued vacation pay saved up as of Sept. 27 last year. Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s Doug Lawler had $157,452 at the end of 2014, a filing shows.

Under his employment agreement, Chazen, 69, can rack up unlimited days. In contrast, other Occidental executives have a ceiling of 296 hours for unused vacation. Chazen steps down at the company’s annual shareholder meeting later this year. Chief Operating Officer Vicki Hollub will succeed him.

Melissa Schoeb, a spokeswoman for Occidental, declined to comment beyond the filings.

Top managers at American companies typically get three to five weeks off each year with limited or no rollover of unused time, according to a survey by executive coaching firm Vistage Worldwide Inc.

Chazen joined Occidental in 1994 and was former Chairman and CEO Ray Irani’s top lieutenant before a boardroom revolt that placed him in the top spot five years ago.

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