Proxy released 3/12/2015 Total disclosed compensation for Honeywell CEO David Cote is up by more than $4 million, for a total of $29,142,121. A major component of the increase: compensation offered under the rubric of retention for a CEO approaching retirement. In 2014, the board approved a special retention agreement of performance stock options with a grant date value of $5 million, as well as renewing a letter agreement he had with the company. Why the extra incentive? Cote agrees to remain employed with the company through December 31, 2017. Cote, who is 62 years old, also agrees that he will provide “a defined transition period prior to his retirement.” This could be seen as a lack of proper attention to succession planning. A board should have always have in plan a thorough succession plan, in case the CEO is hit by the proverbial truck or more likely private jet. Certainly, as an executive approaches retirement age there should be a particular focus on looking ahead. Perhaps Cote’s retirement package is so lucrative – with a pension valued at $55 million and deferred compensation balance of $113,231,240 – that the board feared he would retire early? If so, more money does not seem to be the answer.
Cotes was also awarded a $5.5 million bonus under ICP awards rather than the much more common form of bonus most company’s use, the tax advantage non-equity incentive grant.