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Predicting the Future of E&P Bonus Design

The current oil and gas market challenges are testing the efficacy of prevailing bonus plan structures among exploration and production (E&P) companies.

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E&P bonus plans have historically aligned with growth and investment, focusing on volume (production and reserves) and cost reduction, measures that are more controllable by management and less impacted by commodity prices than earnings-based metrics. In recent years, investors and…

Survey Results: Oil & Gas Workforce and Compensation Strategies

Meridian surveyed fifty-eight companies in the E&P (n=40) and Oilfield Service (n=18) sectors in April to gauge the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and low oil price/demand on companies’ workforce and 2020 compensation programs.

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Key Takeaways In our March survey results we reported an overwhelming majority of companies focused on emergency business actions and less on compensation considerations. As of the end of April, it appears companies have taken action on their now identified…

Executive Salary Reductions in Oil & Gas: What’s the Message?

Through 4/30 we have tracked nearly 60 energy industry companies that have announced CEO salary cuts, the most of any industry group in our COVID-19 database.

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The fact that so many energy industry companies have reported salary reductions should not be surprising; the double black swans of record production and cratering demand have driven industry stock prices further down on average (-58%) than in any other…

Announced Retail Executive and Outside Director Pay Reductions

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., Meridian continues to monitor the unprecedented actions taken by retailers.

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., Meridian has monitored the unprecedented actions taken by retailers to enhance financial flexibility and offset the substantial impact to operations associated with prolonged store closures. These actions have included eliminating…

How should oil & gas companies approach their 2020 annual bonus?

“Wait and see” seems to be the mantra of the day, particularly when it comes to an energy company’s annual bonus plan.

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“Wait and see” seems to be the mantra of the day, particularly when it comes to an energy company’s annual bonus plan. We think that’s a prudent approach for the moment, as much uncertainty remains among the energy industry and…

The $2 Trillion CARES Act Imposes Limits On Employee Pay

As seen in Corporate Board Member - The largest stimulus bill in U.S. history conditions the granting of federal loans and loan guarantees on companies’ agreement to limit employee compensation.

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On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (‘‘CARES Act”) which passed both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives earlier last week with bipartisan support. The CARES Act…

The Impact of Recent Pay Actions on Severance Arrangements

Our recent posts have summarized a range of compensation actions across the oil and gas industry that companies have either announced or are considering in response to the current market environment.

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These actions have included pay reductions, work furloughs, and layoffs. Among other matters, companies likely need to evaluate the impact of these actions on severance benefits. Multiple types of arrangements provide for cash and other benefits in the event of…

Should We Cut Outside Director Compensation?

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In our last two postings, we highlighted a number of potential compensation implications for oil & gas companies in the current environment. Beginning with this update, we’ll select some key topics to review in a bit more depth. And, since…

Retail on the Ropes, But Punching Back

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With phrases like “shelter-in-place,” “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” becoming common vernacular, the U.S. and its economy have entered uncharted waters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many industries are feeling the effects of this evolving crisis, retailers…

Oil & Gas Crisis Response: 2020 Compensation Responses will lead to Sustained Changes

2020’s significant downturn already shows some marked differences from the 2008-2009 and 2015-2016 downturns (the last instances where oil prices fell more than 50% over a short time period).

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Mere weeks after boards approved compensation outcomes from 2019 performance, there’s a temptation to revisit or change those outcomes under the lens of 2020 performance. We believe that in the large majority of cases, those 2019 outcomes should stand on…

Revisiting Board Pay in a Time of Crisis

Many companies are re-examining their non-employee director compensation programs in light of COVID-19-related disruptions.

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There is a clear appetite to set the right tone at the top as business leaders balance (a) keeping their workforce and customers safe and healthy with (b) navigating supply chain uncertainty and weakened demand for their products and services.…

Compensation Implications of the Current Environment

The week of March 9, 2020 may have marked the single worst week for oil and gas stocks on record.

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That was rough… The week of March 9, 2020 may have marked the single worst week for oil and gas stocks on record. A lot has changed, and the only thing certain is that more change will come. Here is…

The $1 Salary: Lessons Learned

Periodically we receive requests from our clients to profile advantages, challenges, and best practices associated with administering pay programs that combine a very modest base salary with large equity grants.

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Periodically we receive requests from our clients to profile advantages, challenges, and best practices associated with administering pay programs that combine a very modest base salary with large equity grants. The $1 Salary Plan is the most extreme version of…

Ready to Expand Your Clawback Policy? Not so Fast . . .

For many years, companies decided to wait for the clawback requirements under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to be finalized before taking action.

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More recently, many have stopped waiting. In public company boardrooms across the United States and abroad, there is a growing trend to expand company clawback policies beyond current regulatory requirements to include additional triggers for addressing employee misconduct through the…

How Should Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Performance be Reflected in Executive Compensation?

Companies are responding to increasing pressure from shareholders, proxy advisors, employees, and even local and state governments to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as part of business strategy and performance.

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Many of the public company boards and corporate executives (very notably, 181 CEOs signing the Business Roundtable Statement avowing Stakeholder primacy1) that are eager to demonstrate this responsiveness cite compensation as an existing, meaningful and highly visible tool that is…

Drafting a Modern Equity Incentive Plan

With the 2020 proxy season approaching, many public companies are readying new or amended equity plans for shareholder approval.

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These plans are a ubiquitous feature of public companies’ compensation programs. They allow companies to grant various types of equity and equity-based awards to their non- employee directors, executives and other key employees. Although equity plans are broadly similar, companies…

Fostering Diversity in Board Pay Practices, Part Two

In this two-part series, we examine the current state of board compensation and whether it accommodates evolving governance practices.

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In recent years, we have observed a remarkable level of homogenization of compensation practices for non-employee directors, even as what is expected from board members of public companies continues to evolve and—generally speaking—expand. In our client work, we have also…