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Without big pay perks, First Data CEO no longer Georgia’s highest paid

Georgia’s highest-paid company executive in 2015 no longer holds that distinction, thanks to a big pay cut last year — but he still got more than $13.8 million.

In 2015, CEO Frank Bisignano took home almost $51.6 million in total compensation, making him the highest-paid CEO that year at a Georgia public company.

His 2015 pay included more than $44.7 million worth of stock-based awards and a $5 million bonus that were tied to his help with taking the metro Atlanta payments processor public that year.

But according to First Data’s proxy statement filed last week, Bisignano’s pay dropped last year to a level more typical of those at other big public companies in Georgia.

His $13.8 million total in 2016 included $10.6 million in stock-based pay, a $1.3 million salary, $1.3 million bonus, and $580,551 in other compensation — mostly for use of company aircraft, and tax “gross-up” payments to cover the income taxes on such perks.

Many Georgia companies haven’t yet filed proxy statements disclosing their executives’ 2016 pay, so it’s unclear who was highest paid. But at least one CEO, Coca-Cola’s Muhtar Kent, took home more pay than First Data’s chief, with total compensation of $17.6 million.

First Data had a string of heavy losses for several years after private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts bought the company in 2007 in a debt-loaded buyout.

One of the biggest annual losses — nearly $1.5 billion — was in 2015, two years after Bisignano took over as CEO and began working to get the company ready to go public again.

Last year, First Data reported a $420 million annual profit, its first since 2006.

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