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Obama's Pay Czar Targets Salary Cuts

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's pay czar is planning to clamp down on compensation at firms receiving large sums of government aid by cutting annual cash salaries for many of the top employees under his authority, according to people familiar with the matter.

Instead of awarding large cash salaries, Kenneth Feinberg is planning to shift a chunk of an employee's annual salary into stock that cannot be accessed for several years, these people said. Such a move, the most intrusive yet into corporate compensation, would mark the government's first effort to curb the take-home pay of everyone from auto executives to financial traders.

Feinberg is expected to issue by mid-October his determination on compensation packages for 175 of the most-highly compensated executives and employees at the seven firms he oversees. The companies are: American International Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., General Motors Co., GMAC Financial Services Inc., Chrysler LLC and Chrysler Financial.

The move will further reshape pay at those firms and could complicate efforts by some of those seven companies to attract top executives and employees.

The issue could be particularly acute for Bank of America, which is searching for a successor to Kenneth Lewis, who announced plans to resign as chief executive of the company last week. A Bank of America spokesman said the bank declined to comment on compensation issues regarding the chief executive. "We have been in close communication with Feinberg and our compensation going forward is very much in line with his guidance," the spokesman said.

The Obama administration has tasked Mr. Feinberg with more closely tying compensation to long-term performance, something the White House believes will help prevent employees from taking unnecessary risks for short-term gains. A government official said shifting some salary away from cash and into stock will help achieve those goals.

Continue reading at The Wall Street Journal

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