got a double dose of media coverage in the past four days for its decidedly unique reporting of its annual bonuses to top executives. After initially leaving investors with the impression that Putnam CEO Larry Lasser
and others received no 2002 bonus, the firm set the record straight. By handling the disclosure in this way the firm insured that Lasser's bonus, and past compensation, garnered twice the headlines.
The unit of Marsh & McLennan filed a proxy with the SEC on Friday that left the bonus line for Putnam CEO Larry Lasser and other top executive blank. Initial reports, including one in the Boston Globe, interpreted that filing to mean that Lasser had received no bonus for his work in 2002. Reporters closely watch Lasser's compensation as he is the highest paid executive in the fund industry and Putnam was one of the weakest performers among the largest fund complexes in 2002. In 2000, Lasser received a pay package reportedly valued at $33 million. In 2002 his package fell nearly 50 percent to $17 million.
Yesterday, the firm amended the proxy to show Lasser's 2002 bonus and related compensation. It turns out that he earned roughly $7 million beyond his base salary of $1 million.
Industry sources say that Putnam executives were caught without the time to complete gathering the information for the proxy filed on Friday. Marsh needed to have the filing turned into the SEC by the weekend to meet a requirement that it be available to shareholders at least 90 days prior to its annual meeting.
Apparently, the bonuses were not determined in time for information about them to make it into the initial filing.
In addition to his $1 million base salary and $7 million bonus, Lasser received $400,000 of other compensation, including $200,000 for sitting on fund boards and $15,000 for a supplemental health plan. He also was reimbursed $35,000 for the services of a financial adviser.
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