White Mountains execs get big bonuses

White Mountains Insurance Group executives were well rewarded for the company’s performance over the last two years, according to a filing submitted by the firm Tuesday with the Securities Exchange Commission.

The board of directors’ compensation committee awarded top executives $29 million in bonus and performance payouts.

Board member John D. Gillespie received the biggest payout – more than $11.4 million – even though he is no longer a company employee. Gillespie, formerly with headed White Mountain Advisors – a wholly owned subsidiary — left in June to become a managing member with Prospector Partners LLC, which manages White Mountains equity portfolio, worth more than $1 billion. His company will get the performance award in the next two-year cycle.

In a separate filing, the company disclosed that Prospector’s annual management fees of assets in excess of $400 million have been increased from 15 to 25 basis points.

Chief Financial Officer David T. Foy – who recently purchased the Concord Quarry Dogs baseball team from a nonprofit board — will get an $8 million award; CEO Steven Fass, will get $5.5 million; Charles B. Chokel, managing director of White Mountains Capital Inc., will receive $3.66.

Salary of White Mountains executives are capped at $400,000, with annual targets for all senior executives set at 50 percent of base salary. Most of the payouts were based on performance shares or units, based on whether it met the company’s performance goal.

“It is much more shareholder-friendly than stock options or restricted shares,” Foy, who was awarded some 6,850 performance shares for the next two-year cycle (which would be worth $3.85 million if the company meets its target), told NHBR Daily. “Only if we get decent returns do we get any payouts at all.”

Fass was given 9,000 performance shares, and Gillespie was granted 8,400 performance shares.

White Mountains – officially headquartered in Bermuda — recently moved it principal executive office to New Jersey after Fass took over as CEO in October. Many of the company’s corporate officers remain in Hanover, N.H., the former U.S. headquarters of the operation. – BOB SANDERS

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