KKR co-chiefs could net $1bn each as part of stock incentive scheme

Joseph Bae and Scott Nuttall, the recently appointed co-chief executives of KKR, have been granted incentive stock awards that could be worth up to more than $1bn each if the private equity group’s stock continues to soar in the coming years.

Bae and Nuttall were granted 7.5m stock units as part of incentive awards that vest based on the performance of KKR’s equity. They will kick in at a price of $95.80 a share, or a 27 per cent gain from its closing price of $75.34 on Friday.

The awards, which require Bae and Nuttall to be employed by KKR up to the end of 2026, will vest in five increments in ranges from $95.80 to $135.80. They will be forfeited by either executive if they are terminated for cause, or if KKR’s stock fails to meet the price-vesting ranges by the end of 2028.

Assuming KKR shares hit the final price of $135.80 and trade for 20 days above that, the overall award could be worth more than $1bn each to Bae and Nuttall.

“These awards are intended to incentivise the co-chief executive officers to help drive stock price performance in a manner that is aligned with stockholder interests,” KKR said in a Friday evening filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“KKR currently intends that no additional equity incentive awards will be granted to Messrs Bae and Nuttall during the next five years,” the group added.

KKR’s shares have soared in recent years as assets pour into the private equity industry and buoyant markets help drive record profits. Its shares have gained 88 per cent this year and more than tripled since the beginning of 2019.

In October KKR co-founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts named Bae and Nuttall as co-chief executives, handing over the reins of the eponymous firm they founded in 1976. Both men were long seen as successors after being named co-presidents in 2017, assuming leadership of the private equity group’s daily operations.

In recent years Bae, 49, had overseen much of KKR’s global investment platform, including its private equity operations in the US and Asia-Pacific.

Nuttall, 49, led many of KKR’s big strategic initiatives, such as its 2010 listing on the New York Stock Exchange, its conversion from a partnership to a corporation in 2018, and the building of its more than $25bn balance sheet, which now represents a significant piece of more than $65bn market value.

They earned more than $35m in compensation last year, according to filings, and each own more than $1bn in KKR holdings from previous stock awards that have risen in value alongside the group’s soaring share price.

Bae holds a net worth of $1.2bn, according to the Forbes rich list, while Nuttall’s net worth is $1.4bn.

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