March 23, 2018 / 6:42 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Thiam's earnings dip as Credit Suisse overhauls executive pay

* CEO earns 9.7 million francs in 2017 as share bonuses cut

* Bank revises bonus system under shareholder pressure

* 2018 pay to tie rewards more to profit and shareholder returns (Recasts and adds peer context)

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH, March 23 (Reuters) - Credit Suisse is revising pay for top management as it completes a major overhaul, hoping to ease shareholder concerns with a returns-focused policy and lower 2017 rewards.

Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam earned slightly less during his third year in the role, the bank’s annual report showed on Friday, after cuts to his long-term share bonuses brought his pay under 10 million Swiss francs ($10.6 million).

“The compensation committee considers that Mr. Thiam’s proposed total compensation for 2017 of 9.7 million francs reflects his strong performance against the suite of measures, while also recognising that the group is still in a transition phase,” compensation committee chair Kai Nargolwala said.

Changes to the bonus scheme for the current year’s pay come amid increasing scrutiny of executive pay, including a “Fat Cat” referendum in 2013 giving shareholders a veto power over management and board pay in Switzerland.

On the other hand, the proposal could also mean a significant pay rise for several executives if the bank beats its targets and delivers rising rewards to its shareholders.

The bank last year agreed to cut executive bonuses by 40 percent, including 2016 cash bonuses and 2017 share incentives, after coming under fire for proposing stepped up payouts despite a second consecutive multi-billion-franc loss.

Nargolwala, who became chairman of the compensation committee in April, said the bank decided to simplify its compensation policy for 2018 to reflect investor feedback.

The new bonus system should provide greater transparency, Nargolwala said, while focusing more on profitability and shareholder returns.

These changes were not reflected in the 2017 pay scheme, which saw overall executive earnings drop 4.3 percent and bank-wide bonuses drop 3.4 percent to 3.2 billion francs.

SWISS PAY

Credit Suisse posted a 983 million franc loss for 2017 following a U.S. tax asset writedown. On a pre-tax basis, it was the bank’s first year in profit since Thiam launched the turnaround plan in 2015.

Thiam earned 4.5 million francs less in 2017 than the head of crosstown rival UBS, which years ago underwent a similar restructuring to scale back its investment bank and emphasise wealth management.

Thiam’s pay still places him among the top earners amongst Swiss company bosses.

At Deutsche Bank, top managers did not take bonuses as Germany’s flagship lender posted its third annual loss in a row. CEO John Cryan earned 3.4 million euros ($4.2 million) in 2017.

Credit Suisse will propose an overall 5.5 percent increase in the maximum payout available to top management and board members for 2018 compared to what the bank had originally envisioned for 2017.

The rise is mainly due to higher maximum share rewards for three unnamed executives, who do not include the CEO. ($1 = 0.9454 Swiss francs) ($1 = 0.8115 euros) (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields)

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