WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. L.M. Bud Baker, chairman and chief executive officer of Wachovia Corp., announced Friday that he had amended his companys merger agreement with First Union Corp. by deleting any increase to his own personal retirement income that the deal would bring.
Mr. Baker, whose company announced April 15 that it had agreed to be sold to First Union (which is to adopt the Wachovia name), had been slated to get $2 million a year upon retirement under the merger. On Friday he said he would go back to his Wachovia compensation package, which will give $1.5 million a year.
In changing that part of the First Union deal, he appears to be showing his eagerness to sell it to shareholders, even while Wachovia weighs a higher offer from SunTrust Banks Inc.
Since SunTrusts hostile bid emerged last week, both Wachovia and First Union have sought to emphasize that their deal will not unravel. (See related story on page 1.)
I have received a number of inquiries from Wachovia shareholders regarding my personal pension benefits to be paid as set forth in the agreement underlying the proposed merger of Wachovia and First Union, Mr. Baker said in a press release Friday. The future of Wachovia and its value to shareholders, customers, employees, and the communities it supports are too important to be put at risk by concerns regarding the compensation of any individual.
He added that the Wachovia-First Union deal represents an extraordinary opportunity to create one of the finest financial services companies in the world. The integration process is ahead of schedule and proceeding smoothly, he said.
As part of the agreement, Mr. Baker and G. Kennedy Thompson, First Unions chairman and CEO, have elected not to receive any stock options, restricted stock, or salary increases.