UPDATE: After breach, Equifax CEO leaves with $18 million pension, and possibly more
By Maria LaMagna
The company announced CEO Richard Smith's retirement on Tuesday
Credit reporting agency Equifax (EFX) said Tuesday its chairman and chief executive Richard Smith will retire, after a security breach at the company that potentially exposed about 143 million U.S. adults to identity theft (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-you-one-of-the-143-million-customers-in-the-equifax-data-breach-do-this-now-2017-09-08).
Smith had spent 12 years in his role at Equifax. The company announced earlier this month that its chief information officer and chief security officer had also retired immediately (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/2-top-equifax-execs-retire-in-wake-of-massive-data-breach-2017-09-15). Equifax's current board president of Asia Pacific, Paulino do Rego Barros, will serve as interim CEO (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/equifax-ceo-richard-smith-to-retire-after-12-years-in-the-role-2017-09-26), and current board member Mark Feidler will be non-executive chairman.
Smith won't walk away empty-handed.
He won't receive a "package" to retire, an Equifax spokesperson said. In 2016 and 2015 he had received bonuses of about $3 million a year, and depending on the company's performance this year, he could have received a comparable amount, according Equifax filings. But he will not receive that award, by mutual agreement. And he will not receive severance pay, as his departure is by mutual agreement, the spokesperson said. If he had been removed from his position, he would have received severance of $5 million.
But Smith will still receive some $18.3 million in pension benefits. Under the company's pension plan, he is entitled to that pension under any circumstance, the spokesperson said.
With that said, though, the company reached an agreement that could give Smith even more compensation; the Equifax spokesperson said Smith and Equifax's board have agreed to defer decisions about the "characterization of his employment." The board "retains the right to change the basis of his departure to a 'for cause' termination," because the board of directors has formed a special committee to focus on the issues surrounding the cybersecurity incident.