Constellation CEO's total compensation up 44%

Constellation Energy Group CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III took in $15.7 million in total compensation last year, a 44 percent annual increase in a year when the company he manages posted a nearly billion-dollar loss.

Shattuck's take-home pay of $1.3 million was unchanged from a year earlier, and his annual cash incentive payment dropped from $3 million to $1.7 million. The compensation package, which the company reported Friday, includes additional payouts in stocks, options and the value of his pension.

The year-over-year increase in compensation was attributed mostly to changes in the accounting value of his pension and deferred earnings.

In 2009, Shattuck's compensation was valued at $10.9 million. Company officials said his compensation package is based in part on future performance.

"Executive compensation here is by no means guaranteed," spokesman Lawrence McDonnell said. "The board's philosophy is that the management team and the company have to perform at a very high level over several years to ultimately earn long-term incentive awards."

Constellation, the parent of utility Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., posted a loss of $982.6 million last year, after a net profit of $4.4 billion in 2009.

The company took significant write-downs in 2010 to reflect the reduced value of its nuclear power business and the cancellation of its nuclear development venture with the French utility EDF, which included abandoning the development of a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland. EDF plans to pursue the project on its own.

Constellation said it also achieved several major initiatives last year, including the acquisition of several power plants in the Boston area and the launch of its competitive residential electricity business in Maryland and New Jersey.

Analysts say Shattuck's compensation increase comes at a time when pay packages for executives are growing throughout corporate America.

"The economy has gotten stronger and pay has come back, " said Steven E. Hall, managing director of a New York executive-pay consulting firm Steven Hall & Partners

While he did not want to comment directly on Shattuck's pay, he said that generally, " '08 and '09 were pretty ugly for CEO pay. …In '10 we've started to see a rebound."

According to a comparison of 100 companies with revenue greater than $1 billion compiled by Hall's firm, average CEO total compensation increased 39 percent in 2010, as the average corporate net income increased 30 percent.

Shattuck's compensation package includes a nearly $7.7 million payout in stock and options that vests over three years and depends on meeting performance goals, the company said.

Accounting rules also added another $4.9 million in pension value and deferred earnings to Shattuck's total compensation in 2010. Shattuck won't see his pension money until he retires.

Shattuck's other compensation, which includes the company matches for charitable gifts, 401(k) contributions and other perks, totaled $124,403 in 2010.

Separately in the regulatory filing, Constellation's board recommended that shareholders vote on the company's executive pay packages annually.

The new "say on pay provision" under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act gives shareholders an advisory vote on executive compensation and how frequently they want to vote on executive compensation packages.

Constellation's annual meeting is scheduled for May 27.

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