Shareholders to vote on NHTB exec compensation

Shareholders of New Hampshire Thrift Bancshares will get to vote on an 18 percent raise for its CEO, as well as the company’s other compensation policies, not that the vote will count.The holding company of Newport-based Lake Sunapee Bank accepted $10 million in Troubled Assets Relief Program money back when the recession was in full swing, and as a condition of the deal, shareholders get to weigh in on executive compensation through an advisory vote.CEO Stephen Ensign made $537,316 in 2010, according to a proxy released last week, about $40,000 more than the previous year, though that was due to changes in his pension plan. His $290,000 salary was unchanged from 2009. But in 2011, according to the proxy, his base salary would increase to $342,000.The base salary of CFO Stephen Theroux would increase from $230,000 to $260,000. His total compensation for 2010 was $405,000, even though his 2010 salary remained the same as in 2009.The bank did well last year, reporting a net gain of $7.9 million (or $1.29 a diluted share), compared to $6.6 million in 2009. Assets were just $5 million shy of $1 billion and net loans receivable rose to $675 million, compared to $620 million a year ago. The bank has been slowly shifting away from residential loans, which now makes up about half of its portfolio, and has been increasing to more profitable consumer loans (which includes home equity) which have grown to 8.36 percent of its portfolio.However, nonperforming assets continue to grow. Last year, those assets were up to $10 million compared to $6.2 million in 2009. In 2006, before the recession hit, the bank only had $754,000 in nonperforming assets. The company upped its loan loss reserve to $9.9 million, up about $450,000 compared to 2009, and more than $5 million more than its reserves for losses 2008. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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