The former ceo of VNU, Rob van den Bergh, pocketed €2.92 million ($3.5m; £2m) in salary, bonus and pension contributions in 2005, according to the company's annual report. It also revealed that his departure will be cushioned by a payoff of up to sixty months salary.

Van den Bergh resigned as ceo of the Amsterdam-headquartered market research and media giant after rebellious shareholders scuppered his plans for a $7 billion takeover of US medical market researcher IMS Health.

VNU, parent of Nielsen Media Research, is now the subject of an $8.9 billion takeover bid from a consortium of private finance investors, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Blackstone Group.

But those same shareholders who pushed van den Bergh to fall on his sword have the votes to block the deal, a move which would probably lead to VNU being sold off in pieces.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff