Lynas head's role flip nets $1 million payout
Lynas Corp boss Nick Curtis was paid almost $1 million in termination fees over the past year, despite never ceasing involvement with the company, according to documents published on Monday.
The rare earths miner awarded Mr Curtis $953,516 of termination payments after he stepped down from being both the chief executive and executive chairman of Lynas, in favour of becoming non-executive chairman in March.
The payment helped boost his total remuneration for the year to more than $1.72 million, and came in a year when Lynas widened its losses by 5 per cent to $107.4 million
While some of Mr Curtis's termination payment related to accrued annual leave, the remainder was said to be "in accordance with his service agreement".
Such termination payments were not paid to Fortescue Metals founder Andrew Forrest when he switched from the chief executive post to become chairman in 2011, or to WorleyParsons' founder John Grill, who made a similar switch in late 2012.
But nor is it unheard of, with several small mining companies, including failed copper miner Kagara Ltd, using similar termination payouts when executives switch roles.
One corporate governance expert, who declined to be named on Monday, said the payments were not a good look. "Technically, he might be entitled to them, but I'm not sure this is what termination benefits are meant to be for."
Martin Lawrence, of proxy advisory company Ownership Matters, said: "He had it in his contract, so it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."
Combining an executive role with a directorship has long been frowned on by corporate governance campaigners, and Lynas said the recent change in Mr Curtis' role was to reflect the company's transition from project developer to producer.
Mr Curtis was replaced by Eric Noyrez on March 31, and Mr Noyrez took home $1.91 million for the year to June 30.
Lynas shareholders showed no concern about the termination payments on Monday, lifting the stock by 6 per cent after news that the company had restructured an important $US225 million ($240million) debt facility.
Under the changes, Lynas will have an extra 14 months to hit certain production milestones and achieve certain financial targets.
The restructure was needed to counter sluggish conditions in the rare earths market, and the delayed start to Lynas' processing plant in Malaysia.
The plant is now operational after a series of protests and legal challenges from environmental groups, and is expected to hit full capacity in the December quarter.
Lynas shares closed 2.5¢ higher at 43¢.
Meanwhile, former Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese has been appointed chairman of Vedanta Resources Holdings, a subsidiary of Indian giant Vedanta Resources, which owns a copper mine at Queenstown, Tasmania.