Massey increases potential payout for Blankenship

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Coal producer Massey Energy Co. is upping Chief Executive Don Blankenship’s already substantial compensation package.

Blankenship’s latest employment agreement makes the high-profile CEO eligible for larger cash and stock performance bonuses, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The document also extends Blankenship’s contract to two years. He had been working under a series of one-year deals.

Richmond, Va.-based Massey had no immediate comment Thursday.

Blankenship’s salary stays at just under $1 million a year, though the agreement acknowledges a 10 percent pay cut he took in May. Massey imposed the salary cut on its executive ranks after cutting wages for rank and file workers approximately 6 percent as it tried to contain costs in the face of crumbling demand for energy.

The agreement also increases the size of Blankenship’s performance bonuses. For instance, Blankenship’s potential cash bonus was increased from the $900,000 outlined in his last agreement to $1.5 million this year and next.

The new deal also offers numerous opportunities for Blankenship to earn Massey stock. For instance, he can receive the right to 81,500 shares for hitting one set of performance targets this year and 32,250 more for achieving another set. Blankenship’s targets include financial results, sales volumes, costs, safety performance and reducing environmental violations, according to the filing.

Stock typically accounts for the bulk of Blankenship’s compensation, which The Associated Press calculated totaled $19.7 million in 2008 — a 17 percent decrease from the year before. Massey’s stock fell 61 percent in 2008, ending the year at $13.79. Shares of Massey ended 2009 at $42.01.

Figures providing the basis for Blankenship’s 2009 compensation have not been released yet.

The AP calculated the 2008 compensation of Peabody Energy Chief Executive Greg Boyce, whose St. Louis-based company dwarfs Massey, at $7.5 million. Likewise, Brett Harvey, chief executive of Canonsburg, Pa.-based Consol Energy, received an estimated $12 million in compensation in 2008.