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2017 Citizen of the Year

Centene Corporation Chairman and CEO Michael F. Neidorff addresses the crowd after accepting the 2017 Citizen of the Year award during a ceremony at McCluer South-Berkeley High School Auditorium in Ferguson on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

Michael Neidorff's compensation as Centene chief executive rose 3 percent last year to $26.1 million, meaning he probably was the St. Louis area's highest-paid CEO for the fifth straight year.

Centene's proxy statement, filed March 8, says Neidorff's pay "appropriately reflects the need for an experienced, seasoned CEO in a high-growth company." 

The Clayton-based health-care company increased its earnings per share 13 percent last year, excluding unusual items, and its share price rose 14 percent.

Neidorff received $1.5 million in salary last year, unchanged from 2017, and two bonuses: an annual incentive of $4.5 million and a long-term bonus, based on performance for 2016 to 2018, of $2.5 million. The annual bonus was 200 percent of the target amount and the three-year bonus was 184 percent of target.

He also received $17 million worth of stock, but 60 percent of that is contingent on Centene's meeting sales and profit targets between 2018 and 2020. An earlier performance stock award, for 2016 to 2018, paid out at 149 percent of target.

Neidorff's perquisites included $160,175 of personal travel on company planes, $65,383 in security services and unspecified amounts for financial advice, tax preparation and event tickets.

Centene calculated that Neidorff made 396 times as much as its median employee, up from 379 times in 2017. Median pay for its 47,444 employees was $66,021.

Centene agreed in February to extend Neidorff's contract as CEO until 2023. If he leaves after a takeover, he's entitled to $12 million in severance and bonus payments and can cash in $79.5 million worth of unvested stock.

Here's how much 30 St. Louis CEOs made in 2017: