Conseco trims CEO’s pay but gives exec team raises

Carmel-based insurer Conseco Inc. CEO James Prieur’s pay fell 5 percent last year, taking his total compensation to $3.3 million, according to the company’s newly filed proxy statement.

But the rest of his management team enjoyed large pay hikes as Conseco reversed two years of losses with four straight profitable quarters.

Prieur, 58, who had led Conseco since 2006, earned $186,054 less than in 2008. Conseco’s revenue last year increased from $4.2 billion to $4.3 billion. Meanwhile, its bottom line swung from a $1.1 billion net loss to an $85.7 million profit.

Conseco’s share price increased 6 percent in 2009, to $5.

Prieur’s salary was $900,000. But most of his pay last year came in the form of restricted stock and option grants worth $1.3 million and a performance-based bonus of $1.1 million.

In 2008, Conseco had awarded Prieur a performance-based bonus worth $633,800, which he chose not to accept due to the recession and the company’s financial condition. When that bonus is included, Prieur’s 2009 pay cut was 20 percent.

Pay for other top executives:

—Chief Financial Officer Edward Bonach earned $1.5 million, up 26 percent.

—40/86 Advisors Inc. President Eric Johnson earned $1.4 million, up 41 percent.

—Bankers Life and Casualty Co. President Scott Perry earned $1.5 million, up 54 percent.

—Conseco Insurance Group President Steven Stecher earned $1.2 million, up 25 percent.

IBJ uses the Associated Press formula to calculate executive pay. It gauges the value of compensation such as stock and options grants at the time they are awarded, not the time they are cashed in.

Conseco spent $1 million last year on combined board compensation for its eight independent directors, 33.2 percent less than it spent in 2008.

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