Apple's chief operating officer Tim Cook earned a US$5 million cash bonus plus stock that could be worth nearly $17 million for filling in while CEO Steve Jobs was on medical leave last year.
In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple said its compensation committee had unanimously approved the bonus, which was recommended by CEO Steve Jobs.
Jobs said Cook deserved the bonus "in recognition of his outstanding performance" during the period Cook ran the company while Jobs was on medical leave.
Along with the cash, Cook was awarded 75,000 restricted pieces of stock. Half of them vest in March next year and the other half the following year. At Friday's closing price, the stock is worth nearly $17 million.
A survivor of pancreatic cancer, Jobs received a liver transplant during his leave last year. Because he plays such a prominent role at Apple, investors and fans worried about the fate of the company in his absence.
Some observers, including businessman Warren Buffet, criticised Apple for not having been more forthcoming about Jobs' condition. In announcing his leave, Jobs said only that his health issues had become more complex following his earlier disclosure of a hormone imbalance. Only later did it emerge that he required a liver transplant.
Cook was praised for keeping the company running smoothly in Jobs' absence. Under Cook's leadership, Apple's stock price climbed from the mid-$80s to around $140 per share.