Bonuses of SembMarine execs hit by downturn

Mr Wong Weng Sun appears to have had a bonus deduction of $2.7 million last year.
Mr Wong Weng Sun appears to have had a bonus deduction of $2.7 million last year.

The brutal downturn in the energy industry took a severe toll on the bonus payments of key executives at rig builder Sembcorp Marine.

Based on the company's 2015 annual report, a $2.7 million sum appeared to have been deducted from the bonus bank of president and chief executive Wong Weng Sun.

The annual report also disclosed that he was paid a salary of $926,000 and awarded share- based compensation of $863,000.

Mr Wong's package was $4.32 million in 2014, including a $2.4 million bonus, although he may not have taken this amount home given the company's remuneration policy.

Typically, one-third of the bonus gets paid out each year, and two-thirds is carried forward. The retained balances remain at risk of clawbacks in the future.

This appears to be the first bonus clawback Mr Wong has experienced since taking over as Sembcorp Marine president and chief executive in 2009, based on a search of the company's annual reports.

Sembcorp Marine told The Straits Times yesterday that it was unable to respond to queries.

Five other executives appeared to have also suffered hits to their bonus pool ranging from $472,000 to $989,000 last year.

"Bonus clawbacks in the oil and gas sector are another illustration of the unprecedented headwinds buffeting the industry," said Ms Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing director of TSMP Law Corp.

Mrs Lee Suet Fern, managing partner of Morgan Lewis Stamford, noted that the move was unsurprising when the industry is down.

Sembcorp Marine's full year net loss came in at $289.7 million in 2015, from a net profit of $560.1 million a year earlier.

Marine engineering companies around the world have had trouble replenishing their order books, while existing orders have been deferred or cancelled, the firm said.

Sembcorp Marine made provisions of $801 million on rig-building contracts and share of losses in other associates and non-operating items in the fourth quarter.

The heads of Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine's parent, Semb- corp Industries, fared better, partly because these are more diversified businesses.

While their total remuneration packages were lower last year, they were still awarded bonuses.

Keppel chief executive Loh Chin Hua's package came to $6.73 million in 2015, including a fixed salary, performance-related bonuses and share awards. This compared with $7.25 million a year earlier.

The total remuneration of Mr Tang Kin Fei, group president and chief executive of Sembcorp Industries, came to $4.45 million in 2015, including a $1.54 million bonus. In 2014, he earned $6.17 million, including a $3.04 million bonus.

"This reflected the impact of a weaker performance by SembMarine, partially mitigated by Semb- corp Industries' utilities business," a spokesman for Sembcorp Industries said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Bonuses of SembMarine execs hit by downturn'. Print Edition | Subscribe