The incentives created by our executive compensation program drive outstanding performance and have contributed to a strong track record of growth, diversification and stockholder value creation. We encourage our stockholders to review the information in our 2016 Proxy Statement for additional details about our compensation program and our commitment to pay-for-performance.
We require our executive officers to own shares of Ventas common stock that have significant value to further align interests with our stockholders. See Equity Ownership for information about our minimum ownership guidelines and other policies regarding our executive officers’ equity ownership.
Our executive compensation program is designed to achieve certain key objectives:
- Attract, retain and motivate talented executives
- Reward performance that meets or exceeds pre-established company and tailored individual goals consistent with our strategic plan, while maintaining alignment with stockholders
- Provide balanced incentives that discourages excessive risk-taking
- Retain sufficient flexibility to permit our executive officers to manage risk and adjust appropriately to meet rapidly changing market and business conditions
- Evaluate performance by balancing consideration of those measures that management can directly and significantly influence with market forces that management cannot control (such as monetary policy and interest rate expectations) but that impact stockholder value
- Encourage executives to become and remain long-term stockholders of our company (see Minimum Stock Ownership Guidelines)
- Maintain compensation and corporate governance practices that support our goal of delivering sustained, superior total returns to stockholders
In 2015, Ventas delivered excellent strategic, financial and operating performance, including industry-leading comparable normalized FFO growth, same-store cash flow growth and fixed charge coverage. We made two key strategic decisions that have us well-positioned to continue delivering outstanding long-term value to our stockholders. We completed the spin-off of over $4 billion of our post-acute/skilled nursing portfolio into an independent, publicly-traded pure-play REIT called Care Capital Properties, Inc. In addition, we entered the hospital market through our investment in the real estate of Ardent Medical Services, a top-10 investor-owned hospital company. This was a long-term strategic initiative for us and provides a platform for future growth.
Ventas has a strong performance- and achievement-oriented compensation philosophy. Our 2015 executive compensation program supported this philosophy and provided the opportunity for our executive officers to earn market-competitive levels of compensation. The 2015 incentive awards earned by our Named Executive Officers, which constituted a significant percentage of their total compensation, reflect a well-designed compensation program intended to incentivize achievement of superior results on important performance metrics that drive stockholder value.
Annual Cash Incentive Compensation
In 2015, our Named Executive Officers had an opportunity to earn cash incentive awards based on our performance with respect to pre-established company financial goals and the achievement of individual objectives tailored for each Named Executive Officer. We achieved maximum performance with respect to the company financial measures generally comprising 65% of the 2015 annual cash incentive award value:
COMPANY FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE (generally 65% of 2015 cash incentive award value)
- Normalized FFO per Share (cash): Our normalized FFO per diluted share, excluding non-cash items, for the year ended December 31, 2015 was $4.47, exceeding the maximum performance goal of $4.42.
- Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio: As of December 31, 2015, our fixed charge coverage ratio was 4.5x, exceeding the maximum performance goal of 4x.
With respect to the portion (generally 35%) of the 2015 annual cash incentive awards based on individual performance, the Compensation Committee and, in the case of our Chief Executive Officer, the independent members of the Board determined that each Named Executive Officer attained between target and maximum performance, depending on his or her unique contributions to our success. As a result, cash incentive awards granted to our Named Executive Officers for 2015 performance ranged from 68% to 100% of their respective maximum award opportunities opportunities (or from 103% to 166% of their respective target award opportunities).
See our 2016 Proxy Statement for additional details.
Long-Term Equity Incentive Compensation
For 2015, long-term equity incentive awards were based on our performance with respect to pre-established quantitative measures, specifically one- and three-year relative TSR and net debt to adjusted pro forma EBITDA at year end (which accounted generally for 50% of the award value), and a qualitative evaluation of our performance with respect to pre-established financial, operational and strategic objective (which accounted generally for 50% of the award value).
Despite delivering excellent strategic, financial and operating performance in 2015, our TSR finished in the bottom quartile of our peer group—along with the other two large-cap diversified healthcare REITs. This resulted in zero payout on our relative TSR metrics (which represent 35% of the award opportunity under our long-term plan). Therefore, our Named Officers earned long-term equity incentive awards at approximately the threshold level, with awards ranging from 53% to 61% of their respective maximum opportunities (or from 72% to 77% of their respective target award opportunities). See our 2016 Proxy Statement for additional details.
Debra A. Cafaro Employment Agreement
Our amended and restated employment agreement with Debra A. Cafaro, our Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, does not entitle her to severance benefits solely upon a change of control or to any tax gross-ups with respect to payments made in connection with a change of control. A more detailed description of Ms. Cafaro’s employment agreement is set forth in our 2016 Proxy Statement.
As of March 14, 2016, Debra A. Cafaro, our Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, owned 2.12 million shares of our common stock (including unvested shares of restricted stock and unvested and unexercised options), and our five executive officers owned an aggregate of 3.14 million shares of our common stock (including unvested shares of restricted stock and unvested and unexercised options). See Minimum Stock Ownership Guidelines.
Anti-Hedging and Anti-Pledging Policy
Our Securities Trading Policy and Procedures prohibits our executive officers and directors from engaging in derivative and other hedging transactions in our securities, and it restricts our executive officers and directors from holding our securities in margin accounts or otherwise pledging our securities to secure loans without the prior approval of the Audit Committee. None of our executive officers holds Ventas securities in a margin account or has otherwise pledged Ventas securities.
In accordance with our minimum share ownership guidelines, each of our executive officers is required to maintain a minimum equity investment in Ventas based upon a multiple (ranging from three to five times) of such executive officer’s base salary. Executive officers must achieve the minimum equity investment within five years from becoming subject to the guidelines and, until such time, must retain at least 60% on a pre-tax basis, or approximately 100% on an after-tax basis (assuming a 40% tax rate), of the shares of common stock granted to the executive officer or purchased by the executive officer through the exercise of stock options. All of our executive officers are currently in compliance with the minimum stock ownership guidelines, subject to transition rules.
Our executive officers are subject to our Policy for Recoupment of Incentive Compensation. If we are required to prepare an accounting restatement due to material noncompliance with any financial reporting requirement, then the Compensation Committee may require any executive officer to repay to Ventas all or any portion of any cash or equity incentive compensation received by the executive officer during the preceding three-year period that exceeds the amount he or she would have received if the incentive compensation had been calculated based on the restated financial results.
Share Withholding Program
We maintain a share withholding program under our equity incentive plans that enables our employees to elect to have shares withheld to satisfy their minimum tax withholding obligations upon the vesting of restricted stock or the exercise of stock options. If an executive officer elects to withhold shares, the tax withholding will be disclosed on a Form 4 as a disposition of the withheld shares.
From time to time, certain of our executive officers may adopt non-discretionary, written trading plans that comply with Rule 10b5-1(c) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“10b5-1 plans”), or otherwise monetize, gift or transfer their equity-based compensation. These 10b5-1 plans permit our executive officers to monetize their equity-based compensation in an automatic and non-discretionary manner over time and are generally adopted for estate, tax and financial planning purposes.
Our Securities Trading Policy and Procedures requires preclearance of any 10b5-1 plan by our Legal Department and provides that executive officers may enter into or modify a 10b5-1 plan only during an open trading window and while not in possession of material non-public information. In addition, our Securities Trading Policy and Procedures generally prohibits our executive officers from entering into overlapping 10b5-1 plans.
Updated: March 29, 2016