February 29, 2008 / 10:09 PM / 10 years ago

Nortel shares sink, but CEO's pay rises

TORONTO (Reuters) - Despite unsteady performance, a new round of layoffs and a plunge in its share price, Nortel Networks Corp NT.TONT.N raised the total compensation of chief executive Mike Zafirovski by about $1.8 million in 2007, regulatory filings show.

Nortel Chief Executive Mike Zafirovski pauses during a news conference following the company's annual meeting in Ottawa May 2, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Zafirovski, who has been steering the Toronto-based telecom equipment maker through a painful turnaround, saw his total pay rise to $10.1 million from $8.3 million in 2006, according to filings the company made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

While his base salary stayed relatively unchanged at about $1.3 million, the total value of stock and option awards rose to $6.4 million from $4.1 million in 2006.

Zafirovski received no bonus during the year, same as in 2006. However, he also received non-stock incentives and “other” compensation, Nortel said.

Nortel’s shares have fallen on the Toronto Stock Exchange from C$35.10 to C$8.48 over the past 12 months, a decline of 76 percent.

The company continues to deal with slumping demand for the telephone gear it makes, as well as competition from low-cost Asian rivals and an uncertain economic environment.

Earlier this week, it announced a fourth-quarter loss of $844 million, largely due to a $1.1 billion noncash charge related to changes in its Canadian tax profile.

Along with the loss, it announced it would shed 2,100 jobs — mostly in North America — and shift another 1,000 to low-cost locales like China and India. At the end of 2006, the company had 32,550 employees.

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Renato Andrade

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