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Tony Staffieri, CEO of Rogers, at the flagship store in Toronto on Oct. 21 2022.Shay Conroy/The Globe and Mail

Darren Entwistle, the chief executive officer of Telus Corp. T-T, has handed over the crown for best-paid telecom CEO to Tony Staffieri, of Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T.

Telus paid Mr. Entwistle $17.49-million in 2022, down from $19.82-million in 2021. The main cause of the drop was a much lower estimate of the annual increase in the cost of providing his pension. Excluding the pension numbers, Mr. Entwistle’s pay rose 4.4 per cent, to $16.61-million.

Mr. Entwistle is the longest-serving CEO among Canada’s big three telecom companies, with more than two decades in the job. That, coupled with Telus’s long-term stock returns – it outperformed the MSCI World Telecom Services Index by 97 percentage points over a decade – has typically led the company’s board to give Mr. Entwistle more compensation than his peers.

But he placed second in 2022′s pay race to Mr. Staffieri. Buoyed by a number of one-time compensation items linked to his ascension to the top job last year and the company’s acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc., Mr. Staffieri made $31.52-million.

That will not continue: Rogers says that it has set Mr. Staffieri’s normal level of compensation at roughly $10.5-million, depending on the outcome of annual cash bonuses.

That’s in line with BCE Inc. BCE-T CEO Mirko Bibic, who received $11.99-million: a $1.4-million salary, $7.5-million in stock awards and a bonus of $3.09-million.

Mr. Bibic’s total reported 2022 compensation came in at $13.59-million, including an estimated $1.4-million increase in the cost of providing his pension, owing to the fact that he turned 55 during the year and became eligible for extra benefits.

Absent the pension estimate, Mr. Bibic’s pay increased 13.9 per cent. BCE says it is increasing his salary and stock awards “to continue his compensation progression and to address market competitiveness with direct competitors and BCE comparator group peers.” Mr. Bibic became CEO in January, 2020.

Securities regulators require companies to include estimates of changes in executives’ future pension income each year. When executives’ pay is significantly different from the estimates in the formula, that yields a change – positive or negative – in the future pension cost.

In Mr. Staffieri’s case, his promotion from chief financial officer to CEO, and the extra annual pay that came with it, caused Rogers to estimate $9.9-million in additional future lifetime pension cost. That was part of his $31.52-million total.

Rogers gave Mr. Staffieri $10.70-million in salary, bonus and stock awards the company described as being part of his normal annual compensation.

He received another stock-option award, valued at $8-million, that he will ultimately collect only if Rogers meets certain undisclosed milestones on the first and second anniversaries of the Shaw takeover.

The three major telecom companies posted mixed results when it came time to award performance pay, with CEO bonuses falling slightly at Telus and BCE.

Telus uses a corporate scorecard with a wide range of measurements of culture, customer satisfaction and financial performance, most of which are not disclosed in detail. The telecom came in slightly short of its cash-flow goal, which is weighted at 35 per cent in the formula.

All told, Telus gave itself a 91 on its scorecard, versus 100 in 2021. In both 2021 and 2022, the board gave Mr. Entwistle double the target payment for the “individual performance” component of his bonus, which helped boost his incentive pay above the scorecard levels.

BCE said its corporate performance index, based on a mix of revenue, profit, cash flow and strategic measures, fell to 100 in 2022 from 105 in 2021. BCE met or slightly beat its financial targets, while falling short on strategic goals, in its own assessment.

Rogers said it achieved revenue goals and exceeded profit targets, which it did not disclose. It also said it “advanced significantly across meaningful performance metrics relative to its key competitors,” without disclosing those metrics.

The result was a $1.83-million annual bonus for Mr. Staffieri, nearly 33 per cent higher than his target.

In 2022, Rogers stock returned 8.7 per cent, including dividends, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, while BCE lost 4.3 per cent and Telus lost 8.3 per cent.

For the five years ended in 2022, Telus stock returned 37.8 per cent, BCE returned 30.2 per cent and Rogers returned 15.9 per cent.

Among the smaller telecoms, Pierre Karl Péladeau made $3.13-million at Quebecor QBR-A-T, up from $2.58-million in 2021. While his annual bonus fell by more than $200,000, to $909,853, he received a stock-option award valued at $720,250 after having received none the prior year.

Mr. Péladeau’s stake in Quebecor is worth a little less than $2.5-billion, based on Thursday’s closing prices.

Philippe Jetté of Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Communications Inc. made $5.24-million in the year ended Aug. 31, up from $4.45-million in the prior year. A $100,000 increase in salary, about $640,000 more in share and stock option awards, and a $100,000 increase in annual bonus drove the gains.

Shaw Communications did not disclose compensation for its year ended Aug. 31. It did not hold an annual meeting because of its acquisition by Rogers.

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