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Tesla founder Elon Musk will only be paid if automaker meets goals

2018-01-24 07:18

Image: AP / Francois Mori

New York - Tesla announced Tuesday (Jan 23) that founder and chief executive Elon Musk would get "no guaranteed compensation" from the fast-growing electric automaker unless the company achieves certain milestones in the coming years.

Compensation for Musk, 46, will be based on a new 10-year performance stock award "entirely contingent on achieving market cap and operational milestones that would make Tesla one of the most valuable companies in the world," according to a company statement.

For Musk to get the maximum, Tesla's stock market value would have to grow to $650-billion, an increase of some $600-billion from current levels, and certain revenue and profitability goals would also have to be achieved.

The new package, using shares which "vest" based on certain criteria, is modeled after a similar deal created in 2012, after which Tesla's market value increased by more than 17-fold.

"Elon will receive no guaranteed compensation of any kind - no salary, no cash bonuses, and no equity that vests simply by the passage of time," the statement said.

"Instead, Elon's only compensation will be a 100 percent at-risk performance award, which ensures that he will be compensated only if Tesla and all of its shareholders do extraordinarily well."

The new performance-based package includes a 10-year grant of stock options which vests in 12 tranches.
To meet the first milestone, Tesla's current market cap must increase to $100 billion. Eleven additional milestones are set at increments of $50 billion.

For each of the 12 tranches achieved, Musk will get stock awards of one percent of Tesla's current total outstanding shares. If none of the tranches is achieved, he won't get anything.

The package is contingent on Musk remaining as Tesla's CEO or as executive chairman and chief product officer.
"This ensures that Elon will continue to lead Tesla's management over the long-term while also providing the flexibility to bring in another CEO who would report to Elon at some point in the future," the statement said.

"Although there is no current intention for this to happen, it provides the flexibility as Tesla continues to grow to potentially allow Elon to focus more of his attention on the kinds of key product and strategic matters that most impact Tesla's long-term growth and profitability."

Tesla shares were up 0.2 percent at $352.30 in late morning trade on the news, giving the automaker a market capitalization of some $59 billion.

Musk's net worth is estimated by Forbes magazine at some $21 billion, making him one of the 100 wealthiest on the planet. He also runs the private space firm SpaceX.

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