Connect with us

Business

Feddie Mac Chief Gets New Pay Package

Published

on

The pay package given to Freddie Mac’s new chief financial officer should have sent a message from Washington to corporate America about how executive compensation standards must change. Instead, it did just the opposite.

The government-controlled mortgage finance company is giving CFO Ross Kari compensation worth as much as $5.5 million. That includes an almost $2 million cash signing bonus and a generous salary that could top $2.3 million.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie Mac, approved the pay package. A spokeswoman pointed to a statement that justified the agency’s approval of the pay, which was done in part because the amount was comparable to what others in the financial services industry make.

That way of thinking is exactly what helped feed the surge in executive pay over the last decade. Everyone wants to make at least as much, or more, than their peers.

Freddie Mac is not just another company. It’s alive today, and nearly 80 per cent owned by the government, only because almost $51 billion in taxpayer funds were pumped into it over the last year. More bailout money also may be needed in the quarters ahead as losses from its troubled mortgages mount.

Outside pay experts are outraged. “We are in a period when this shouldn’t be acceptable,” said Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate at The Corporate Library, an independent corporate governance research firm. “Even if pay is competitive to the market, that doesn’t make it OK today.”

Lawmakers, regulators and corporate directors have spent the last year talking about how to “fix” executive pay following the outcry over what many Americans deem as excessive compensation.

Banks have come under fire for paying top executives big bonuses, which many see as encouraging excessive risk-taking and a focus on short-term results. The Obama administration also has proposed giving shareholders of all public companies a nonbinding vote on compensation.

Financial companies that receive bailout funds under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme, or TARP, are bound by rules on compensation. So long as they hold the government money, they can’t pay cash bonuses to top executives, retention awards to top managers or stock compensation subject to performance-based vesting.

Freddie Mac doesn’t have to follow those restrictions because its government aid has come from outside TARP.

Instead, Freddie Mac and its sibling, Fannie Mae, operate under “conservatorship” of the U.S. government after being crippled by losses last year. That was done because of the vital role both companies play in the mortgage market by purchasing loans from lenders and selling them to investors. Together, they own or guarantee about half of all U.S home mortgages.

The McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac has been without a permanent CFO for more than a year, when its two top executives stepped down as part of the government takeover in early September 2008. Acting CFO David Kellermann committed suicide in April.

Given the close government control over Freddie Mac, the pay package for its new CFO could have been held up as an example of reasonable compensation. Instead, his pay package doesn’t reflect much restraint.

When Kari joins Freddie Mac on October 12, he will receive a base salary of $675,000 and is entitled to an additional $1.66 million in cash for the year. The company said Kari will be paid in installments, but did not specify the timing of those payments in a September 24 securities filing. The company declined to comment beyond the filing.

Kari will also receive performance-based pay at the board’s discretion. The target amount for that cash compensation is $1.16 million, but what is actually given to Kari could be higher or lower.

His cash signing bonus totals $1.95 million and will be paid out in semi-monthly installments over the year. That money is supposed to cover what he forfeited in stock options and grants when he left Fifth Third Bancorp, where he served as CFO since last November.

Freddie Mac also said it would immediately allow him to sell his home to the company, waiving a 60-day offer period that is required for other executives. It did not, however, specify which of his homes would be covered; Kari has residences in Ohio, Oregon and Washington State, according to the filing.

No doubt that Kari is an able executive and has a hard task at hand. Before his 10-month stint at Fifth Third, he worked in the executive ranks at the insurance company Safeco and Wells Fargo.

Freddie Mac’s regulator, the FHFA, highlighted his qualifications in a statement it made after the pay package was disclosed. The agency said the approval of Kari’s pay was done after consulting with the Treasury Department. The FHFA declined further comment, and the Treasury Department didn’t return a request for comment.

In its statement, FHFA also said that Kari’s hire came at a “critical time for our nation’s economy and for the company.”

A better approach for Kari’s compensation would have been to require him to wait at least three years to receive a bulk of his compensation, instead of allowing him to get as much as 80 percent of it in cash over one year.

“It’s that kind of pay package that got us into trouble in the first place, because it encourages short-term thinking,” said Richard Ferlauto, director of pension and benefits policy for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a Washington-based labour group representing government workers.

At Fifth Third, Kari’s yearly salary was $580,000 and he received a $100,000 signing bonus. He also received a restricted stock grant of 20,000 shares and 40,000 stock appreciation rights, both of which would have vested after four years but were terminated once he left the Cincinnati-based bank.

Had he stayed at Fifth Third, he would not have been able to cash out of his equity compensation until the bank repaid the $3.4 billion in TARP funds it received. But Carol Bowie, head of the Governance Institute at RiskMetrics Group, a financial risk management firm, notes that his cash signing bonus at Freddie Mac effectively allows him to accelerate his receipt of equity he forfeited when he left Fifth Third.

Bowie acknowledges that attracting top talent is critically important to a troubled company like Freddie Mac, and supports the idea of executives being paid for their skills.

But she also thinks figuring out what’s fair in pay doesn’t mean sticking with the bad practices from the past.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Business

Nigeria, 12 Others To Drive Global Trade By 2030 – Report

Published

on

A trade research report has indicated that Nigeria and 12 other countries will be responsible for the driving of the global trade to the tune of $30 trillion by the year 2030.
The research, which was commissioned by Standard Chartered and prepared by PwC Singapore posited that Nigeria and 12 other countries would be responsible for driving global trade to $30tn by 2030.
According to the report sponsored by the Singaporean organisation, the global exports would be more than double from $17.4tn to $29.7tn over the next decade, while much of the growth would be driven by 13 markets.
It said Nigeria would be growing at an annual rate of 9.7 per cent, with about $112bn in exports by 2030, through key corridors such as India, Indonesia and Mainland China.
It also stated that Kenya, the second African nation on the list, would be growing by 7.6 per cent annually, with $10bn in exports by 2030 through key corridors namely, Pakistan, Uganda and the United States of America.
The list consists mostly of Asian countries with Mainland China contributing the most at $5.02tn by 2030 and growing at 7.1 per cent annually.
Other countries are Hong Kong ($939bn, 5.7 per cent), South Korea ($972bn, 7.1 per cent), and India ($564bn, 7.6 per cent).
Bangladesh, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia also featured in the report.
The report is based on an analysis of historical trade data and projections until 2030, as well as insights from a survey of more than 500 C-suite and senior leaders in global companies.
According to the report, global trade will be reshaped by five key trends: the wider adoption of sustainable and fair-trade practices, a push for more inclusive participation, greater risk diversification, more digitisation and a rebalancing towards high-growth emerging markets.
It said almost 90 per cent of the corporate leaders surveyed agreed that these trends would be shaping the future of trade and would be forming part of their five to 10-year cross-border expansion strategies.
The research also found a significant trend towards the adoption of sustainable trade practices in response to climate concerns and a rising wave of conscious consumerism.
It said while almost 90 per cent of corporate leaders acknowledged the need to implement these practices across their supply chains, only 34 per cent ranked it as a ‘top three’ priority for execution over the next five to 10 years.

By: Corlins Walter

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Business

Currency In Circulation Rose By N129bn In Oct – CBN

Published

on

The currency in circulation in the country rose by N129bn to N2.97tn in October from N2.84tn in September, according to the figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The currency in circulation had fallen to N2.78tn in August from N2.81tn in July.
It stood at N2.74tn in June, N2.79tn in May, N2.79tn in April, N2.8tn in March, N2.78tn in February and N2.83tn in January.
The CBN said, “The currency in circulation increased by N465.47bn or 19.06 per cent to N2.91tn in 2020, compared with N2.44tn in 2019.
“In 2020, there were higher withdrawals by DMBs than deposits, due to the panic need to hold cash to deal with the emergencies and reduced banking hours due to restrictions to curb spread of the pandemic”.
The apex bank said to maintain public confidence and ensure integrity of circulated notes in the economy, it developed and unveiled a clean note policy and banknote fitness guidelines in 2018.
The guidelines outlined details of quarterly and yearly activities towards the achievement of this objective.
According to the CBN, the clean note policy encapsulates diverse currency management activities to preserve the integrity and maintain the quality of banknotes in circulation.
The policy provides that every newly printed and existing banknotes should conform to predefined standards before circulation and re-circulation in the economy.
Currency in circulation is defined as currency outside the vaults of the central bank – that is, all legal tender currency in the hands of the general public and in the vaults of the deposit money banks.
The CBN said it employed the “accounting/statistical/withdrawals and deposits approach” to compute the currency in circulation in the country.
It said this approach involved tracking the movements in currency in circulation on a transaction-by-transaction basis.
According to the CBN, for every withdrawal made by a DMB at one of CBN’s branches, an increase in CIC is recorded; and for every deposit made by a DMB at one of CBN’s branches, a decrease in CIC is recorded.
The transactions are all recorded in the CBN’s CIC account, and the balance on the account at any point in time represented the country’s currency in circulation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Business

CBN’s eNaira Records 600,000 Downloads Within One Month

Published

on

Barely four weeks after its launch in October, the eNaira app of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has witnessed about 600,000 downloads.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this in a statement at the weekend, said, “In less than four weeks since its launch, almost 600,000 downloads of the e-Naira application have taken place.
“Efforts are ongoing to encourage faster adoption of the e-Naira by Nigerians who do not have smart phones.
“The support of the financial industry will be critical in the ongoing deployment of the e-Naira and efforts are ongoing to encourage continued partnership between the CBN and stakeholders in the financial industry”.
The CBN governor also said that building a robust payment system that would provide cheap, efficient, and faster means of conducting payments for most Nigerians have always been the focus of the apex bank.
According to him, the growing pace of digitization globally makes it essential that they leverage on digital channels in fulfilling this objective.
Emefiele disclosed that total transaction volumes using digital channels were more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, as volumes rose from 1.3 billion to over 3.3 billion financial transactions in 2020.
He added that digital payment channels also helped to support continued conduct of business activities during the lockdown.
The CBN boss noted that the robust payment system has continued to evolve towards meeting the needs of households and businesses in Nigeria. This, according to him, reflects the confidence people have in the payment system.
He said that between 2015 and September 2021, about US$900 million has been invested in firms being run by Nigerian founders.
“Notwithstanding these gains, close to 36 per cent of adult Nigerians do not have access to financial services.
“Improving access to finance for individuals and businesses through digital channels can help to improve financial inclusion, lower the cost of transactions, and increase the flow of credit to households and businesses,’’ Emefiele added.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Trending