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Apple CEO Tim Cook took home 'only' $4.2m in 2012

Tim Cook's duties as Apple's chief executive this year have earned him 'only' $4.2 million (£2.6m) in compensation — a hefty chunk of change but far less than he's made in recent years.

Cook's annual pay has resembled a roller coaster during the past three years. His 2012 compensation, revealed by Apple in a proxy statement, is the low point.

Last year, when he took over the CEO role just weeks before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' death on 5 October, 2011, Cook took home a total of $378 million (£223.5m). He brought home $59.1 million (£36.7m) in 2010, when he last served as Apple's chief operating officer for an entire year.

According to the Cupertino-based firm's summary compensation table, Cook, who stepped into the CEO role in August 2011, actually got a boost in his base salary this year, but earned none of the bonuses or stock awards that inflated his pay in previous years.

"Despite this increase, the target annual cash compensation for Mr. Cook remains significantly below the median annual cash compensation level for CEOs at peer companies," Apple said in its SEC filing.

His recent, back-loaded compensation packages do mean Cook still has a lot of financial gain to look forward to, as the proxy statement notes. Half of the 1 million restricted shares (RSUs) Apple granted him in autumn 2011 as a promotion and retention award will vest on 24 August, 2016 while the other 50 per cent will become available on 24 August, 2021.

Because of the size of last year's RSU award, the company did not grant Cook another one in 2012, it said.

However, four of Apple's senior executive officers got some truly hefty pay packages this year: senior vice president of technologies Bob Mansfield earned $85.5 million (£53m), general counsel Bruce Sewell got $69 million (£42.8m), senior vice president of operations Jeffrey Williams snagged $68.7 million (£42.6m), and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer got $68.6 million (£42.54).

Most of that was in assorted bonus and stock packages. All four execs had base salaries of $800,000 (£496,185) in 2012, according to Apple.

"The Company exceeded the maximum performance goals for both net sales and operating income set by the Compensation Committee for 2012. Accordingly, each executive officer received the maximum payout of 200 percent of base salary under the performance-based bonus plan," the filing read.