Blake received $3.1 million in '96 USF&G; president rewarded by board for reviving company


USF&G; Corp.'s president and chief executive officer, Norman P. Blake Jr., received a pay package last year totaling $3.1 million, up 26 percent from the year before, according to the company's proxy statement.

Blake received a $2.1 million bonus on top of a base salary of $858,815, plus $153,223 in other compensation. He also was granted options to buy 252,900 shares of company stock.

Blake, who joined the once-troubled, Baltimore-based company in 1990, is credited with helping to revive the insurer, which has $14.5 billion in assets.

"He has re-energized the company," said Alice Cornish, an analyst with Alex. Brown Inc. "There is more enthusiasm and just generally a more positive outlook about the direction of the company."

In February, USF&G;'s board approved a severance arrangement covering Blake and several other top officers that protects them if USF&G; were acquired.

The executives are entitled to receive payments ranging from 1.5 times to three times the prior year's total compensation if they are terminated without cause, or if there is a material reduction in duties, or in their salaries.

The arrangement would be in effect within two years after the acquisition, according to the proxy, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington.

Blake, who holds 806,502 shares of USF&G; stock, received high marks from the directors, who tied his compensation to the company's performance.

Last year, USF&G; restructured its branch offices, expanded international operations by acquiring Mexico's largest surety company and continued to build its presence in the Lloyd's of London market.

The company also beat several performance targets set by the board, including net income, revenue and return on equity.

"This responsibility consisted of achieving targeted financial objectives without compromising the financial integrity or long-term profit performance of the corporation," the proxy said.

USF&G;'s earnings have been steady, and its stock price has risen to about $20 a share, up from the $11 range when Blake joined the company in November 1990.

Pub Date: 4/04/97

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