American Axle gives CEO $8.5 mln cash bonus

DETROIT, June 27 Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:33am BST

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DETROIT, June 27 (Reuters) - American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc (AXL.N) has paid Chief Executive Dick Dauch an $8.5 million cash bonus for his "leadership role" through an acrimonious three-month union strike that ended with a concessionary contract that slashed factory wages.

American Axle, whose stock has fallen nearly 55 percent in 2008, disclosed the cash bonus, a 10 percent base pay increase for Dauch and additional stock and options awards in a filing late on Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The board's compensation committee said it made the cash bonus award after "taking into account American Axle's strong financial performance in 2007, the structural transformation achieved under our new labor agreements with the UAW, and ... Dauch's leadership role in these negotiations."

Dauch's 2007 salary was nearly $1.5 million. He was awarded 150,000 stock options and 59,192 shares of restricted stock that vest over three years to March 14, 2011.

His employment agreement entitles Dauch to an annual bonus of three times his salary if the company outperforms competitors by greater than an historical amount, according to the SEC filing.

The board's compensation committee also awarded other American Axle top executives annual bonuses in excess of what they would have earned based solely on financial targets.

The committee also approved a 15 percent salary increase for David Dauch, son of Dick Dauch, based on his promotion to president and chief operating officer, and salary increases of 4 percent to 6 percent for other officers.

American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers said the bonuses and pay increases reflected the company's need to remain competitive and to retain top executives. (Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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