Board games

Suncor Energy Inc. has announced that Dominic D’Alessandro will be joining its board. Suncor will pay the ex-CEO of Manulife a $140,000 annual retainer, but half of that goes to buying Suncor shares until he owns $420,000 worth. Fees for attending the full board and committee meetings might add another $20,000 in income.

Rumor has it that D’Alessandro will also be joining the CIBC board where his annual retainer will be $100,000. Again, a portion (in this case $60,000) goes to buying shares. Meeting fees are higher at the bank than at Suncor so he might earn $40,000 for showing up, more if he’s named chair of a committee.

D’Alessandro has said he’ll be joining three boards. So, assuming a similar emolument, he’ll earn a total of $300,000 a year (plus the payment in shares) from the three. Not bad, but nothing like being CEO of Manulife where he earned $300,000 a week. (Company rules did not permit him to remain on the Manulife board.)

When all is said and done, compensation from board appointments doesn’t really matter. It’s all about staying connected and keeping the gray matter functioning. Or so say many appointees.

Of course, D’Alessandro receives a handsome pension from Manulife of $3 million a year, more than most individuals earn in a lifetime. In such a world, board fees are just pocket change.

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