The chief executives officers at Canada’s three largest telecom companies saw their pay rise last year, primarily due to higher share-based compensation and larger performance bonuses.
The executive pay figures, disclosed to shareholders in proxy circulars sent by the telecom companies in advance of their coming annual meetings, show that Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. led the way, paying their CEOs more than Rogers Communications Inc. paid theirs.
The numbers reflect decisions made before the novel coronavirus shook the Canadian economy this year. The compensation packages include cash salaries and bonuses, plus other benefits, but are heavily weighted toward company stock.
Telus president and chief executive officer Darren Entwistle earned $12.92-million in total compensation in 2019, up from $12.56-million the year before. While his salary remained the same at $1.38-million, his annual performance bonus rose to $727,765 from $669,798 in 2018 and his share-based compensation climbed to $9.98-million, from $9.64-million.
Telus said it scored at 66 per cent on a corporate scorecard that measures nine performance measures. It missed on customer-satisfaction and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization). The board, however, gave Mr. Entwistle 180 per cent of the target for his portion of the bonus – one-fifth of the total – based on individual performance.
Earlier this month, Telus announced that Mr. Entwistle would donate three months of his base salary – an estimated $350,000 – to purchasing masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment for health care workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ventilators and other urgently needed medical equipment. His family foundation matched the donation.
BCE’s George Cope, who retired as CEO in January, received $12.64-million in total compensation in 2019, up from $12.01-million the previous year. While his salary and share-based compensation remained stable, his annual bonus rose to $3.46-million, from $2.81-million in 2018.
BCE uses a corporate performance index as part of its bonus calculation. The company beat its goals for adjusted EBITDA and revenue, but missed on free cash flow. It also considers progress on “strategic imperatives.” All told, the corporate performance index was 107 per cent in 2019, compared with 95 per cent in 2018, leading to higher bonuses. The company also noted a smooth leadership transition as Mr. Cope passed the reins to Mirko Bibic, a former regulatory lawyer who most recently served as the company’s chief operating officer.
Rogers CEO Joe Natale, meanwhile, took home $11.7-million in total compensation last year, up from $11.55-million in 2018. His base salary increased slightly to $1.31-million last year, from $1.27-million in 2018, while his share-based awards and option-based awards rose to $4-million each, from $3.75-million previously.
Mr. Natale’s annual bonus declined to $1.5-million, from $1.96-million in 2018. Rogers calculates executive bonuses based on a combination of company, team and individual performance. The corporate and individual components were lower in 2019 compared with the previous years, culminating in a lower bonus for Mr. Natale, corporate filings show.
Telus stock returned 16.3 per cent last year, while BCE shares returned 17.4 per cent. Rogers stock, which took a battering last fall after the company’s strategic shift to unlimited data plans led to a sharp drop in overage charges, returned minus 5.1 per cent.
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