TORONTO (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp will pay outgoing chief executive Dominic D'Alessandro $12.5 million for less than six months of work in 2009, following a year in which its stock price nearly halved.
The Canadian insurer said in its proxy circular filed with regulators on Thursday that its board decided in August to make the payout in part to recognize his "extraordinary performance" and to "convey the board's appreciation for the strong leadership D'Alessandro provided" since starting as CEO in 1994.
D'Alessandro, who is set to step down in May, will receive $2.5 million of his 2009 compensation in cash with the remainder in the form of restricted stock units.
The circular said he received total compensation of almost C$13.3 million in 2008 and nearly C$17 million in 2007.
D'Alessandro helped build Manulife into one of North America's largest life insurers. But the Toronto-based firm, which has operations in the United States and Asia, was hit hard by the onset of the global financial crisis.
Manulife said in February it lost C$1.87 billion ($1.52 billion) in the fourth quarter ended December 31, its first quarterly loss as a public company. Sinking equity markets forced it to hike reserves to cover investment guarantees linked to some of its products.
The loss was partly the result of management's decision to not hedge its stock market exposure. Both Moody's and Standard and Poor's have since cut their ratings on the insurer.
Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson, Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman