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Heinz CEO's compensation soars to $22.7 million

| Saturday, June 14, 2008

H.J. Heinz Co. CEO William R. Johnson was rewarded for the company's recent performance with a more than 50 percent jump in his total compensation, documents disclosed Friday show.

Johnson's pay package increased 51.4 percent, with his total compensation rising to $22.7 million for the year ended April 30, up from $15 million for the year ended May 2, 2007, the company's annual proxy statement says.

"It doesn't really surprise me that he got a bump," said Matt Kaufler, an analyst with Rochester, N.Y.-based Clover Capital Management, which holds 358,000 Heinz shares.

For the year, Heinz's net income increased 7.5 percent to $844.9 million, or $2.63 a share, from $785.7 million, or $2.36 a share one year ago. Sales were $10.1 billion, the first time Heinz has crossed that threshold, up from just over $9 billion.

"Heinz ranked number one in total shareholder return (stock appreciation plus dividends) over the past two years in its 10-company peer group, and Mr. Johnson's compensation reflects that outstanding performance," Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said.

Johnson's percentage increase in total compensation was the lowest among Heinz's top four executives, the proxy shows. Total compensation for Executive Vice President Jeffrey P. Berger, who retired, increased 63.9 percent to $4.6 million from $2.8 million.

Chief Financial Officer Art Winkleblack's package jumped 91.5 percent to $4.5 million, from $2.4 million, while executive Dave Moran took top honors for largest percentage compensation bump. President and CEO of Heinz North America, Moran's compensation jumped 112.7 percent to $4.9 million from $2.3 million.

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