Fortress (FIG) To Star Trader Levinson: $300 Million Enough To Make You Stay?

It’s tough to find good talent, and even tougher to keep it. Fortress Investment Group (FIG) has reportedly paid $300 million in share grants to Adam Levinson, one of its star traders, to stay at the firm. WSJ:

Mr. Levinson, who also is the chief investment officer of one the firm’s main funds, joins the private-equity and hedge-fund giant’s five other controlling shareholders, who together hold some $3 billion of company stock. These executives haven’t sold any shares since the company went public in 2007 and own 77% of the business.

Mr. Levinson’s windfall — which was alluded to in a May filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission — highlights the quandary of publicly traded private-investment outfits. On the one hand, they must compensate elite traders and dealmakers richly enough so they don’t leave for a competitor or start their own firms. The heads of large private hedge funds such as Citadel Investment Group and Paulson & Co. can — and have — earned billions of dollars in a single year.

But public firms also answer to shareholders, who often look down upon outsize pay packages. At least one analyst took a dim view of Mr. Levinson’s 31-million-share grant, which based on Friday’s stock-market close was nearly four times the size of the $84 million pay package commanded by the highest-paid U.S. chief executive last year, Merrill Lynch’s John Thain.

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