April 26, 2018 / 6:01 PM / in 24 days

Caesars union wants private equity firms off board committee

BOSTON (Reuters) - A union of Caesars Entertainment Corp employees on Thursday asked its board to remove several private equity representatives from the compensation committee, citing high pay for top executives as Caesars’ operating unit emerged from bankruptcy.

“Executive compensation at Caesars is out of control,” a Las Vegas affiliate of Unite Here, which represents more than a third of Caesars’ 52,000 workers, told the casino company’s Chairman James Hunt in letter Thursday seen by Reuters.

The union cited concerns including large stock awards to leaders including Caesars Chief Executive Mark Frissora, and that directors will not hold an advisory vote on executive compensation at their annual meeting scheduled for May 30.

The company’s April 10 proxy shows Frissora made $23.9 million in 2017, up from $9.5 million in 2016. The increase mainly reflected the value of a one-time grant of $16.5 million in restricted stock meant to retain his services, the proxy states.

Caesars’ compensation committee chair is David Sambur, a senior partner at Apollo Global Management, and includes Richard Schifter, a senior advisor at TPG Capital. A prior committee that set executive pay for 2017 also included Apollo and TPG representatives.

Spokespeople for Apollo and for TPG declined to comment. Representatives for Caesars did not respond to requests for comment.

A restructuring settlement last year resolved claims by creditors that the private equity firms stripped billions of dollars of assets before putting Caesars’ main operating unit into bankruptcy in 2015. Apollo and TPG led a leveraged buyout of Caesars in 2008.

In addition to the removal of Apollo and TPG representatives from the compensation committee, Unite Here asked Caesar’s board to increase employee pay and to cap CEO pay at 150 times that of the median employee.

Frissora made 601 times as much as his median worker last year, according to the company’s proxy dated April 10, reflecting the new “pay ratio” disclosure requirement for U.S. companies this year.

The ratio was higher than at all but 7 of 69 companies that had filed proxies as of March 31 tracked by compensation data firm Equilar.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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