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Around the world with Travelers, Nasdaq & more…

The corporate jet is perhaps the quintessential sign of executive status — or excess, depending on your perspective. Next to the jet, the lowly company car is practically an entitlement.

But we’d like to inaugurate an exclusive new association for the the well-grounded executives among us: We’ll call it the Around-the-World Club. To join, your company simply has to admit to paying enough for your personal (non-business) ground transportation that it could hire a New York City cabbie to drive you quite literally the length of the Earth’s circumference. We aren’t picky about how these august few accomplish the feat: We’ll accept automobile allowances, car service tabs, company cars, and of course, the ubiquitous car and driver.

We still haven’t seen anything quite as lavish this year as the MicroStrategy (MSTR) proxy we footnoted a year ago. But our first inductee to the Class of 2011 is Lisa Harper, chief executive of teen clothing-and-accessory empire Hot Topic (HOTT). Harper got a new employment agreement on March 11 that included a $500,000 salary as well as a $120,000 “annual living allowance” (which sounds more like additional salary to us, but OK). And, just in case that isn’t enough to afford carfare in its headquarters town of City of Industry, California, Harper also is “eligible to select an automobile of Executive’s choice (up to $60,000 value) that will be leased and held in the Company’s name.” The company is on the hook for the monthly lease, maintenance and insurance, but Harper apparently has to shell out for any gas she uses on personal trips.

Now, given New York’s current cab fares, we figure Harper could travel just shy of 30,000 miles for that kind of money — easily beating our threshold of 25,000 miles (the circumference of the earth at the equator). Of course, she could also just stop at once around the globe and throw in a 20% tip.

But Harper can’t hold a candle to Robert Greifeld, CEO of the NASDAQ OMX Group (NDAQ), which recently saw its bid for the NYSE Euronext (NYX) rebuffed. Perhaps the folks at the Big Board were simply jealous of the $80,627 that Greifeld racked up in “incremental cost of personal use of company car” in 2010, according to the proxy that NASDAQ OMX filed on Friday. The NYSE only reported spending $28,511 on personal use of a car and “trained security driver” for its CEO, Duncan Niederauer.

We won’t speculate on the kind of Sunday drives Greifeld enjoys, given that his personal use of that company car amounted to enough to take our hypothetical New York cabbie more than 40,000 miles. That’s like making about a dozen round-trips from lower Manhattan to Los Angeles. Or like cruising from Nasdaq headquarters to the New York Stock Exchange (you know, just to scope it out) 18 times a day — for a decade (going the long way around).

Just squeaking past Greifeld for first place — at least for today — is Jay Fishman, chairman and chief executive of The Travelers Cos. (TRV). After commissioning an outside consultant to analyze security risks for the company, the Travelers board has apparently found it wise to provide Fishman “a dedicated Company car and driver” to tool around the mean streets surrounding its headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, and beyond.

The company pays for “some personal travel,” the proxy says, without explaining what qualifies and what doesn’t. Fishman’s “total incremental cost for personal use of a Company car and driver and other ground transportation” — we can only dream about the assortment of mo-peds, pedi-cabs and dune buggies that must be at Fishman’s disposal — amounted to a $82,618 in 2010, according to the proxy Travelers filed last week.

Just to put these road warriors in perspective: Together, they’d have our cabbie driving just about halfway to the moon. But don’t worry: Proxy season is still upon us, so they may well find themselves left in the dust of some even better-wheeled corporate chieftains. Stay tuned.

Image source: NASA Visible Earth catalog