Park Sterling Bank CEO’s compensation rises 32%

The chief executive of Charlotte-based Park Sterling Corp. was awarded $750,846 in total compensation for 2013, about 32 percent more than the year before, as the bank’s earnings rose and its nonperforming loans shrunk.

The bank reported in its annual proxy filing that Jim Cherry’s compensation increased in all categories.

A key contributor were stock awards, which Cherry and other top executives did not receive in 2012.

Cherry’s 2013 pay was composed of a $433,333 salary, $200,000 cash bonus, $96,880 in stock awards and $20,633 in other compensation – a category that includes 401(k) matching contributions.

The bank’s other top executives also received higher salaries, bonuses and, for the first time since 2011, stock awards. The company said the higher compensation reflected the company’s growth and continued improvement in earnings and asset quality.

Park Sterling, launched in 2006, is the largest regional bank headquartered in Charlotte.

It has branches in the Carolinas and Georgia and a loan-production office in Virginia, where it expanded in January. In 2012, its purchase of Gastonia-based Citizens South Banking Corp. doubled its assets, which are now approximately $2 billion.

Last year, the bank announced its first-ever quarterly dividend, 2 cents per share. It earned $14.9 million for shareholders in 2013, up from $4.3 million in 2012. Nonperforming loans decreased from 1.29 percent of all loans in 2012 to 0.94 percent in 2013.

Also under Cherry’s leadership, the bank rolled out a suite of mobile banking apps last year.

But loans fell by 4.4 percent from the year before. The lack of growth restricted the size of a funding pool from which cash bonuses are paid to top executives based on return on average assets.

The bank’s compensation committee said the pool could have been $2.6 million. Instead, it set it at $1.9 million, “in recognition of the fact that despite its strong operating performance the company did not achieve satisfactory net loan growth during the year,” the proxy filing states.

In 2012, Cherry was paid a salary of $418,750, a cash bonus of $137,500 and other compensation of $14,022, for total compensation of $570,272.

David Gaines, chief financial officer, earned the second-highest compensation of the company’s top executives in 2013, $611,357.