Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut the compensation of its top executives last year.

Chief executive Henry Paulson was paid $22.5 million in 2000, a 12% cut from 1999. He got less than the chief executives of Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., or Bear Stearns Cos., whose average raises were 23%.

Mr. Paulson, 54, earned $600,000 in salary and a $14 million cash bonus, down from $16 million in 1999. He also got restricted stock worth $3.9 million and options now valued at $3.9 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Since Mr. Paulson’s total compensation ultimately is a function of the size of the bonus pool,” the filing said, “the fact that the overall bonus pool was smaller in fiscal 2000 than it was in fiscal 1999 had a negative impact on Mr. Paulson’s total compensation in 2000.’’

In 1999, Mr. Paulson’s pay had doubled from the year before, to $25.5 million.

Last year he also got $5.7 million in distributions from his investments in the private equity funds Goldman manages for its employees. Vice chairman Robert Hurst took a payout of $1.7 million, and board member John Weinberg got $1.2 million, the filing said.

The reduction in the firm’s bonus payments reflects the plunge in U.S. stocks that trimmed profit growth and curbed the firm’s most profitable investment banking activities: underwriting new equity sales and advising on mergers.

Goldman Sachs earned $3.25 billion in 2000, up from $2.55 billion in 1999. Its shares rose 13.5% in 2000, compared with a 78% gain during 1999 from the price established in a May initial public offering. Since the beginning of this year, the shares have fallen 12%.

As required by the SEC, Goldman Sachs also detailed its other senior executives’ pay.

John Thain and John Thornton, chief operating officers, each got $19.4 million, including $600,000 in salary, $12.1 million in cash bonuses, $3.3 million in restricted stock, and options the firm valued at $3.4 million. Last year, Mr. Thain and Mr. Thornton each earned $21.9 million. Mr. Hurst got $16.5 million, including a $10 million bonus, $2.8 million of restricted stock, options the firm values at $2.8 million, and a $600,000 salary.

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