New York Community Bancorp Still Reimburses CEO for Taxes on Pay

  • Ficalora got $3.29 million tied to taxes on vesting equity
  • Company will discontinue practice for awards granted in 2016

New York Community Bancorp Inc. still pays personal income taxes on stock paid to its executives, a rare perk frowned upon by corporate-governance hawks.

Among more than 680 executives tracked in the Bloomberg Pay Index, no others were reimbursed for the taxes incurred when they receive company stock. New York Community Bancorp paid $6.9 million in such taxes for five executives in 2015, according to a preliminary proxy statement filed Tuesday. It reimbursed Chief Executive Officer Joseph Ficalora $3.29 million last year, bringing his total to $10.9 million since 2009, the first year the bank disclosed the perk.

The bank discontinued reimbursing taxes for shares awarded in 2016, the filing shows. Because the equity awards vest annually over five years, the executives will continue to get reimbursements through 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from company filings. The perk is granted to allow each executive to “maximize his retention of company stock,” according to the document.

John Puccio, a spokesman for New York Community Bancorp, declined to comment beyond the filings.

Only 46 percent of Westbury, New York-based lender’s investors supported its pay practices in 2014, the last time it held a vote on the matter, data show. Typically, investors are happy to leave compensation decisions to boards. The average support level for pay practices at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is 92 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co. have pressured boards to eliminate tax reimbursements, saying they can make compensation opaque and inflate costs.

New York Community Bancorp’s compensation committee is chaired by Maureen Clancy, the owner of Clancy & Clancy Brokerage Ltd. Wally Dahya, CEO of The Y Company LLC, and Michael J. Levine, president of Norse Realty Group Inc., are members of the committee.

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