General Electric CEO Declines Bonus for 2008

By Staff | February 18, 2009 | 10:53 AM EST
New York (AP) - General Electric Co. said Wednesday that Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt declined his 2008 bonus as the company struggles with a declining stock price amid a deteriorating economy.
The Fairfield, Conn.-based company, which makes everything from locomotives to household appliances, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Immelt will also forgo his $11.7 million long-term performance award. The actions amount to a 64 percent reduction in Immelt's cash compensation compared with a year ago.
Immelt had a bonus of $5.8 million in 2007, while his salary was maintained at $3.3 million in 2008.
"We focus most on CEO compensation to assure it reflects operating and stock performance and demonstrates our awareness of investor sentiment," General Electric said in the filing.
The company said it accepted Immelt's offer to go without the payments due to its declining stock price.
General Electric's shares have fallen 33 percent so far in 2009 and lost more than half their value last year. The stock closed at $10.81 on Tuesday, but traded as high as $59.06 in late 2000.
Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin and Michael Neal, chief executive of GE Capital, also received 2008 bonuses 15 percent and 25 percent below their prior-year payments, respectively.
The two executives also both declined half the amount earned under their long-term performance awards, which means a $2.6 million reduction in Sherin's payment and a $2.9 million reduction in Neal's payment.
Earlier this month General Electric said it would pay a planned 31-cent dividend to shareholders, but would evaluate dividend payments for the second half of the year.
GE plans to shrink the size of its GE Capital lending unit this year, trimming its holdings of risky debt and cutting its work force due to mounting loan losses.
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