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Charlotte tech CEO is in for a huge pay day — if his company's stock keeps soaring

Charlotte-based technology company LendingTree, led by CEO Doug Lebda, announced Thursday that it’s growing its local footprint with more than 400 high-paying jobs.
Charlotte-based technology company LendingTree, led by CEO Doug Lebda, announced Thursday that it’s growing its local footprint with more than 400 high-paying jobs.

LendingTree CEO Doug Lebda received a $59.6 million pay package in 2017 after a year in which the Charlotte-based technology company saw a soaring stock price and tallied record revenue.

The bulk of Lebda's pay package was composed of options to buy company stock valued at $57.4 million that were granted as part of a new four-year contract, according to a securities filing Friday. The options are performance-based, meaning the shares must climb at least 70 percent from the grant date price of $183.80 to $312.46 to pay out.

For Lebda to get the maximum number of shares under the contract, the stock must reach $459.50. LendingTree shares were trading around $245 on Monday, down about 28 percent for the year after rising about 236 percent in 2017.

Lebda's 2017 pay package also included $639,231 in salary, a $1,014,095 bonus and $573,916 in other compensation. In 2016, his total compensation was $1.8 million.

In Friday's proxy filing, the board's compensation committee said it designed the CEO's pay package to "strongly align (his) compensation to increases in stockholder value." It also aimed to "strongly incentivize" Lebda to stay with the company through his four-year contract, which ends Sept. 30, 2022.

Lebda founded the company in 1996 and took it public in 2000. LendingTree's main business is an online service that matches borrowers with mortgage lenders, but it has been expanding into other areas of financial services in recent years.

Earlier this month, the company said it's considering moving its headquarters to a former mill in Pineville to accommodate a fast-growing workforce.

Under a requirement of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, public companies this year for the first time are disclosing the ratio of their CEO’s pay to the median employee.

This year Lebda's pay was 549 times higher than the median employee who made $108,536. The proxy noted that Lebda's stock options this year caused a higher ratio than if the company had used more traditional stock awards.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker
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