Wells Fargo grants $25 million in stock bonuses to top execs

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Wells Fargo & Co said on Thursday it gave Chief Executive John Stumpf and three other top executives stock payouts worth a total of about $25 million, but it said none of these executives will receive a cash bonus for 2009.

Stumpf received 379,600 shares, valued at about $10 million. Chief Financial Officer Howard Atkins, wholesale banking head Dave Hoyt and home and consumer finance head Mark Oman each received 189,800 shares, worth about $5 million.

The stock payouts will vest after three years and only if the San Francisco-based bank meets certain performance goals, the bank said in a statement. The executives will forfeit the payouts if they leave the company for a competitor and they must hold a portion of all their shares for as long as they are employed by Wells Fargo, according to the statement.

Wells Fargo's move follows that of Goldman Sachs Group , which earlier this month said it would pay its top managers their 2009 bonuses in stock rather than cash.

Morgan Stanley also is considering proposals to align pay with long-term performance, through measures like awarding compensation based in part on the bank's share performance relative to peers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

U.S. banks broadly are seeking to deflect outrage over bonuses, which have been a hot-button issue since the U.S. government handed out billions of dollars in bailout money to shore up banks during the financial crisis.

Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets, earlier this month returned the $25 billion it received in October 2008 under the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

But some bank experts have said that returning government funds and increasing stock-based compensation will not necessarily end public outcry over bankers' large bonuses. If banks including Wells Fargo continue to rebound from the financial crisis, their shares -- and the executives' payouts -- could surge.

Shares in Wells Fargo have recovered from a low of $7.80 at the height of the financial crisis in March but they have fallen almost 8 percent from $29.48 at the start of the year.

Wells Fargo shares were up 1.4 percent, or 38 cents at $27.20 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Gunna Dickson)

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