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Medtronic math on study-abroad…

As a college student, I’ve been saving my extra summer cash for a study-abroad trip to South Africa. But once I added up the costs of safaris, horseback riding lessons, skydiving, World Cup tickets and the pricey plane ticket, I figured out that my summer savings isn’t quite going to cut it.

I used to think that a budget for living overseas was just something that college kids obsessed over, but after reading Medtronic’s (MDT) recent proxy, I realized that funding a trip, or even a more permanent stay, overseas can cost a pretty penny nowadays. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the numbers buried in Medtronic’s filing that the reality of just how expensive it is to live abroad really began to sink in.

The proxy revealed that in fiscal year 2009 Senior VP and President of International operations at Medtronic Jean-Luc Butel received $1,086,597 in other compensation from the medical technology giant for his expatriate assignment in Japan.

Here’s how the company’s prescription for Butel broke down:

  • A payment of $355, 756 per year for foreign-income tax;
  • The sum of $304,482 for a host housing allowance;
  • A $124, 418 annual payment, or $10,368.17 per month, towards an automobile allowance–that’s $19,668 more than what the most expensive hybrid costs, which is the Lexus LS600h at $104,750;
  • The company’s issuance to him of $109, 880 in the form of a cost of living differential;
  • A $192, 061 check for additional categories of expense (i.e. home leave, a family allowance, family educational expense, financial planning payments and miscellaneous assignment-related expenses)

The money Medtronic allotted Butel for his stay in Japan accounted for more than 30 percent of the $3.6 million he collected for the year. It’s probably a given that these numbers seem enormous to any college student like myself with a much tighter budget, but what I’m still trying to figure out is what kind of crazy car can really cost as much as the company is giving the executive Butel.

Note from Michelle: Kristen Scholer, a junior at Northwestern University, has been interning at footnoted.org this summer. This is her first post for the site.