Possible Marsh sale comes after executives awarded bonuses | VailDaily.com

Possible Marsh sale comes after executives awarded bonuses

INDIANAPOLIS – Days before Marsh Supermarkets Inc. officials announced that financial woes might force them to put the company up for sale, board members approved a $250,000 bonus for the chain’s chief financial officer, records show.According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, John C. Elbin, the company’s treasurer and CFO, was given the bonus Nov. 17. He was appointed to the post in July.Indianapolis-based Marsh announced Tuesday that it would study “strategic alternatives,” including selling the company, amid lackluster earnings. Marsh lost $3.4 million during its most recent quarter that ended in October. It earned $1.3 million during the same period in 2004.Marsh shares fell 29 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $10.97, in trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.Jodi Marsh, a spokeswoman for the regional grocery chain, said Elbin’s bonus was discretionary and awarded for his work refinancing a $95 million credit agreement, as well as his expertise in exploring “strategic alternatives.””I know Mr. Elbin had a lot of experience and expertise with previous companies before he came to Marsh,” she said. “He has assisted companies with exploring strategic alternatives and that knowledge will be an asset.”In June, Marsh’s board of directors also approved a 10 percent salary increase for company President David A. Marsh, raising his base compensation to $440,000.The board also voted to give a $250,000 contractually obligated performance bonus to Jack J. Bayt, president and chief operating officer of Crystal Food Services, a Marsh subsidiary. Jodi Marsh said that bonus was give to Bayt for improving Crystal’s profit.Prior to David Marsh’s June raise, the executive had not received a base salary increase for 28 months, she said.Supermarket analyst David J. Livingston, managing partner at DJL research, said such executive bonuses are typical before a corporate sale.”If they don’t think they can get the money from selling stock, they’re going to try to get it by giving themselves bonuses and raises,” he said. “Or if they made a decision a few months ago, they may have given people a retention bonus.”Experts said the 74-year-old grocery chain is struggling to compete against stores like Wal-Mart, Meijer and Kroger.Marsh operates 70 Marsh grocery stores, 38 LoBill Foods stores, eight O’Malia Food Markets and 160 Village Pantry convenience stories in Indiana and western Ohio.—On the Net:www.marsh.netVail, Daily

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