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Green Tree CEO Gets $102-Million Bonus

March 28, 1997|From Washington Post

A St. Paul, Minn., CEO has crossed the $100-million mark for a year's bonus.

Lawrence M. Coss, chief executive and founder of Green Tree Financial Corp., a company that finances mobile homes, received what was a rather paltry salary by some standards in 1996--only $433,000. But he got a bonus of $102 million, $95 million of which was in stock.

"It's a crazy incentive plan, an outrageous incentive plan, an idiotic incentive plan," said Graef Crystal, an executive compensation expert. "It could have been designed by Forrest Gump."

But some say Coss may deserve the package.

"The shareholders are delighted with Green Tree's performance under this executive," said John Dolphin, a spokesman for the company. "We have made countless people wealthy beyond their wildest imagination."

In fact, the company has performed extraordinarily well, according to analysts and market watchers. The company's average annual return to shareholders over the last five years has been 52.7%, compared with 30.4% for market darling Berkshire Hathaway and 23% for Coca-Cola.

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