The Real Deal New York

Sizing up real estate’s big earners

SL Green's Holliday still highest-paid CEO at a major office REIT
By Konrad Putzier | December 01, 2018 10:00AM

Ryan Schneider, Christian Ulbrich and Owen Thomas

Here’s how much the CEOs at seven top public real estate firms made last year.

Marc Holliday
SL Green Realty
2017 CEO income: $17.41 million
Company median income: $57,508

While Marc Holliday’s 2017 income was down from its $23.05 million peak in 2015, he remains the highest-paid CEO at a major office REIT. Last year, he took home a $1.35 million salary, a $1.94 million cash bonus and a $4.5 million equity bonus — the latter based on operational targets. SL Green missed some of its goals, including a 97 percent occupancy rate (it managed 95.3 percent) and a 2.5 percent increase in net operating income at the same locations (it increased by 2 percent.) But it made others, including $650 million worth of property acquisitions and sales, and the full leasing of its 6,018-square-foot retail building at 719 Seventh Avenue. Holliday’s income was a staggering 302 times greater than the company median income of $57,708, which includes building operations.

Related: The big pay paradox

Sandeep Mathrani
General Growth Properties
2017 CEO income: $11.33 million
Company median income: $80,869

Sandeep Mathrani’s income has taken a roller coaster ride over the past six years. In 2012, he earned a total $4.22 million. He went on to take home $22.1 million in 2013, $6.44 million in 2014, $39.25 million in 2015 and $10 million in 2016. In 2017, General Growth Properties’ last year as an independent company, Mathrani made $11.33 million. This summer, Brookfield Property Partners bought the retail REIT in a $15 billion deal and rebranded it Brookfield Property REIT. Like other mall owners, GGP had been struggling amid a broader retail malaise. The company’s board apparently thought Mathrani did well given the circumstances: He collected a $2.01 million cash bonus and an $8 million stock bonus in 2017. A May analysis by Crain’s Chicago found that Mathrani could land a payout of up to $189 million thanks to the merger, which includes the value of shares he owns and potential severance payments. GGP’s median employee income in its final year was $80,869.

Steven Roth
Vornado Realty Trust
2017 CEO income: $10.47 million
Company median income: $61,824

At 77, Steve Roth is one of the oldest CEOs of a public real estate company. But while questions over when (and whether) he plans to retire have been swirling for years, he has shown little interest in giving up his job. It’s perhaps not hard to see why: The Vornado chief made $10.47 million last year — his second-biggest paycheck in the six-year period The Real Deal reviewed. Roth’s base salary was $1 million, slightly less than what he earned in 2016, but his performance-based award of units in the REITs operating partnership increased to $5.61 million from $5.31 million in the same period. Last year, he was also given a personal car and driver, which cost the company $297,319. The median Vornado employee income, meanwhile, was $61,824, including the REIT’s cleaning and maintenance business.

Owen Thomas
Boston Properties
2017 CEO income: $10.06 million
Company median income: $104,897

Boston Properties is one of the few office REITs whose stock has rewarded investors over the past few years, and CEO Owen Thomas’ pay reflects that. He earned $10.06 million in 2017, up from $10.01 million in 2016 and his highest income in the six-year period TRD reviewed. On top of his $875,000 base salary, he collected a $2.42 million cash bonus and a $6.74 million stock bonus. Thomas, a former chairman of Lehman Brothers, took over as Boston Properties’ CEO from its founder, Mort Zuckerman, in 2013. Under Thomas’ leadership, the company has pursued ambitious development projects in New York City, including the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Dock 72 in partnership with Rudin Management, and 3 Hudson Boulevard on Manhattan’s Far West Side in a joint venture with the Moinian Group. Boston Properties’ median employee income was also higher than its competitors’ at $104,897.

Robert Sulentic
CBRE
2017 CEO income: $8.61 million
Company median income: $57,303

Robert Sulentic, who became CBRE’s CEO in 2012, notched his biggest paycheck ever last year thanks to a $5.13 million stock bonus. That came on top of his $990,000 base salary and $2.49 million in “non-equity” incentive payments. Sulentic had made a total $4.96 million in 2016 (he only received 50 percent of his equity bonus that year because the company awarded it in March rather than August) and $7.7 million in 2015. His pay bump came after the commercial brokerage raised its net income to $2.05 per share, up from $1.71 in 2016 and $.96 in 2013. Unlike most other publicly traded commercial real estate companies, CBRE has also been profitable for its shareholders, with a three-year total return of 6.29 percent, according to Morningstar. CBRE’s median employee income in 2017 was $57,303.

Christian Ulbrich
JLL
2017 CEO income: $9.22 million
Company median income: $48,000

In 2017, his first full year as CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle, Christian Ulbrich made $9.22 million. On top of his $809,858 base salary, he took home a $2.46 million stock bonus and a $5.84 million cash bonus. But that’s down from the total $12.66 million his predecessor, Colin Dyer, earned in his last full year as the commercial brokerage’s chief in 2015. Ulbrich, who replaced Dyer in October 2016, had been with the company since 2005, starting off as managing director of JLL Germany before rising up the ranks. JLL’s median employee income last year was $48,000.

Ryan Schneider
Realogy
2017 CEO income: $5.19 million
Company median income: $57,295

Ryan Schneider’s paycheck last year was his smallest since 2012. Realogy — parent to the residential brokerages Corcoran Group, Citi Habitats and Sotheby’s International Realty — has been dealing with a slowdown in the luxury apartment market. The company’s three-year shareholder return is a staggering negative 23.43 percent, according to Morningstar. Still, its earnings rose to $431 million from $213 million in 2016. “Realogy’s executive compensation programs are designed so that there is alignment between executive pay and company performance,” a company spokesperson told TRD in a statement, adding that Realogy “continues to maintain market share and generate substantial revenue.” Realogy’s median employee income last year was $57,295.