Retiring Wells Fargo CFO May Get $10 Million

Wells Fargo's former CFO Howard Atkins stands to walk away from the company with pay of at least $10,498,311, when he retires in August.

Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, analyzed the bank's 2009 proxy, and using Tuesday's closing price of $34.10 a share, found Atkins is eligible for pension benefits worth $937,775, deferred compensation worth $8,315,497 and accelerated stock options worth $1,245,059.

Less clear is whether Atkins will get to keep 310,270 restricted performance shares (RSPs) valued at $13,310,000, using Tuesday's closing price. The shares do not vest immediately and are distributed if the bank meets certain performance criteria each year. It is unclear from the proxy whether Atkins will forfeit these shares by retiring.

Late Tuesday, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo unexpectedly said Atkins was immediately taking an unpaid leave of absence to deal with a "personal matter." He will retire in August.

Atkins has been with the firm for 10 years, and Wells Fargo said his decision to retire has nothing to do with the company's financial condition or financial reporting. Atkins is being replaced by Timothy J. Sloan, the bank's chief administrative officer and a senior vice president.

In a note to clients, Rochdale Research analyst Dick Bove said the bank owes shareholders a greater explanation of this event, noting its highly unusual for a CFO to step down just ahead of the company filing its 10-K and ahead of the release of the results of the stress tests being conducted by the Federal Reserve.

"It is not normal for a CFO to leave a company for personal reasons when major disclosures about to be made," Bove wrote.