Sunoco offers $7 million to lure CFO away from Dell

Good chief financial officers are worth every penny if they can keep their enterprises humming through recessions and credit crises.

Judging by what some newly hired CFOs are earning, they’re commanding quite a few pennies.

Brian P. MacDonald, introduced on Tuesday as Sunoco Inc.’s new CFO, will get an annual salary of $650,000, according to an offer letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In contrast, Sunoco’s last permanent CFO, Thomas W. Hofmann, had a base salary of $570,000 for 2008.

MacDonald also will be eligible for a cash bonus of 80 percent of his salary, or $520,000. Plus, Sunoco will pay a cash award of $300,000 on the first payday after his hire date and a second award of $400,000 on the six-month anniversary of his employment.

As long as the compensation committee approves, the oil refiner and marketer intends to award him restricted share units worth $2.2 million on Aug. 31. (Those won’t vest for three years.)

In addition, MacDonald will get equity grants worth $1.7 million on Aug. 31 and other grants worth $1.6 million next March.

Add it all up, and I get $7.37 million (excluding benefits) to lure MacDonald away from Dell Inc. , where he was CFO for its commercial business unit.

That’s a lot of money, but not out of line with what other CFOs are making. According to Equilar Inc., a research firm that focuses on compensation, the median salary for a CFO that’s worked for a large public company for at least two years was $532,758 in 2008.

Other local companies have paid up to attract CFOs.

Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., the Chadds Ford maker of pain medications, named Alan G. Levin as its CFO as of June 1. Levin, 47, will get a salary of $600,000, an annual cash performance bonus of up to 200 percent of his salary, 80,000 stock options, 43,500 restricted stock units, and a $225,000 one-time cash bonus.

Levin, a former Pfizer Inc. executive, succeeded Charles A. Rowland, who resigned Sept. 2. Rowland’s base salary for 2008 was $468,000.

B. Craig Owens joined Campbell Soup Co. as CFO on Oct. 6 at a salary of $780,000. Previous CFO Robert Schiffner, who resigned on Aug. 1, had a base salary of $525,000.