Fiscal 2018 was a year of surprises for Springdale-based Tyson Foods, from president and CEO Tom Hayes’ abrupt resignation to the unexpected death of newly retired chief financial officer Dennis Leatherby.
Noel White was promoted to president and CEO in October, and Hayes signed a two-year non-compete agreement on Dec. 1, according to the company’s annual Proxy filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission on Thursday (Dec. 20).
Tyson Foods’ top five executives shared a total of $4.65 million in performance bonuses for the year based on solid financial results, with revenue of $40.1 billion and operating income of $3.1 billion, up by 4.2% from the prior year. Shareholders also received a 33% increase in dividend pay compared to the year-ago period.
John Tyson, chairman and grandson of the founder, earned total compensation of $9.99 million for fiscal 2018. That included a base salary of $1.04 million for the role of board chairman and company ambassador. His stock awards totaled $4.48 million, with options valued at $1.31 million and a cash bonus of $1.20 million. His pension contributions on his behalf totaled $554,000 and other compensation such as the use of company aircraft, life insurance and taxes totaled $1.39 million.
Hayes earned a total of $9.48 million for the year. His resignation was at the fiscal year-end. His base salary increased to $1.20 million with a cash bonus of $1.39 million, stocks and options paid to him were valued at $4.69 million and $1.37 million, respectively. His pension and other compensation totaled roughly $ 812,000.
Tyson Foods has not commented on why Hayes resigned, except to cite “personal” reasons. Insiders have told Talk Business & Politics that Hayes — who joined the company as a result of the Hillshire Brands acquisition in 2014 — was reluctant to relocate to Northwest Arkansas permanently, and that likely played a factor in his decision to part ways. During Hayes’ tenure as CEO, he did move the majority of the company’s marketing positions to Chicago at Hillshire Brands’ former home office.
White, a Tyson Foods veteran, was promoted to succeed Hayes. White, who formerly served as chief operating officer and president over poultry, prepared foods and international, as well as beef and pork segments in recent years, hit the ground running to try an integrate the Keystone Foods acquisition, a $2.16 billion investment announced earlier this year. White signed a new contract with a base salary of $1.15 million for fiscal 2019. His total compensation for fiscal 2018 as president of fresh meats and international divisions was $5.73 million. He received cash bonus payments totaling $865,707 as the beef segment had a record year, despite challenges with pork and chicken. His stock awards and options were valued at $2.30 million and 675,002, respectively. White also received deferred compensation (pension) award of $684,867. His other compensation including use of company aircraft and taxes reimbursements totaled $351,708.
Stewart Glendinning took over as chief financial officer following Leatherby’s retirement in February. Glendinning received a sign-on bonus of $2.7 million and a base salary of $581,096 for the partial year. His cash performance bonus totaled $497,699, with stock and option award of $2.53 million and $1.04 million, respectively. Other compensation and pension awards totaled $231,000 for Glendinning. Tyson Foods noted in the proxy the $2.7 million cash sign-on bonus requires him to stay two years with the company or repay the benefit.
Sally Grimes, the highest ranking female at Tyson Foods as president of the prepared foods group, earned total compensation of $3.98 million. Her base salary was $786,231 and she received a cash bonus totaling $693,818 for fiscal 2018. Her stock and option awards totaled $2.20 million combined. She had deferred pension awards of $145,542 and other compensation totaling $151,775.
Leatherby held the role of chief financial officer through Feb. 10 and remained with the company through April 2018. He earned a base salary of $390,654 and a prorated bonus totaling $405,635 for the year. His total compensation for the period worked in fiscal was $1.21 million. Leatherby died suddenly from a heart attack in August, just four months after retiring. Tyson Foods said any benefits (life insurance — prorated non-compete awards) owed to Leatherby after his death were paid to his estate.
In the proxy filing, Tyson Foods said it will hold its annual shareholder meeting at 10 a.m. Feb. 7, 2019, at its Emma Avenue office in downtown Springdale. The company will elect a slate of directors to a one-year term. The following directors are up for re-election at the meeting.
- John Tyson
- Gaurdie Banister Jr.
- Dean Banks
- Mike Beebe
- Kevin McNamara
- Cheryl Miller
- Jeffrey Schomburger
- Robert Thurber
- Barbara Tyson
- Noel White
Shareholders will also vote on two proposals outlined in the filing. The board will ask shareholders to vote against the following shareholder proposals:
- A request for a report disclosing the policy and procedures, expenditure, and other activities related to lobbying and grassroots lobbying communications.
- A proposal to require the preparations of a report on the company’s due diligence process answering and mitigating human rights impacts.
Shares of Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) were trading slightly higher Thursday at $53.16, up 49 cents compared to a 400-point decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the early afternoon session. For the past 52 weeks, Tyson Foods shares have traded between $82.51 and $51.88.