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New GE CEO to put performance-based pay to test

General Electric Co.'s new CEO stands to earn a handsome compensation package if he is able to put the conglomerate's share price on a growth trajectory. Though some of the hard work had already begun before H. Lawrence Culp Jr.'s appointment in October, the journey that lies before him is likely to be a long one.

Culp, the company's first external CEO who replaced John Flannery on Oct. 1, will receive an annual base salary of $2.5 million, with a target annual bonus of $3.75 million, and is entitled to up to $15 million in equity awards beginning in 2019.

He is also entitled to a one-time performance share unit grant of between 2.5 million shares and 7.5 million GE shares if the company's stock price rises between 50% and 150%, based on the highest average closing price over 30 consecutive trading days from his first day as CEO until Sept. 30, 2022. There will be no performance share unit award for stock price appreciation of less than 50%.

All told, "nearly 90% of his annual pay will be at risk," a GE spokesperson wrote in an email, adding, "Larry is a proven executive with a long track record of superior execution, and the board's package to attract Larry is overwhelmingly tied to performance."

While CEO of Danaher Corp. from 2000 to 2014, Culp grew the company through acquisitions, while its share price rose more than 400% over the period.

GE is on a different path, undergoing a program to sell assets and narrow its focus on certain sectors, such as aviation, power, and renewable energy, according to Joshua Aguilar, an equity analyst at Morningstar. But Aguilar told S&P Global Market Intelligence that he believes Culp may need up to three years before any measures he takes translate into a higher stock price.

GE shares have dropped from $13.61 on Oct. 8 to $6.71 as of Dec. 12.

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