A “jolly good” transition at Symetra…

While the most famous —Changing the Guard ceremony takes place in London, another impressive one is taking place in Bellevue, Washington, where Symetra Financial Corporation (SYA), which sells life insurance, annuities, and various employment benefit plans, has its headquarters.

The departing —Guard is CEO/President Randall Talbot, who’s leaving his executive posts and board seat at Symetra and its affiliates. Symetra disclosed the terms in an 8-K it filed June 11.

It’s actually a two-part transition. Talbot officially ceased serving as an officer, executive, and director of the company on June 7. But his —Employment Termination Date will be June 30; between now and then, he’s to help his successor learn the ropes and work on any projects the Board assigns.

Talbot’s Separation and Consulting Agreement states that after he leaves (and signs a release), he—ll get a lump-sum cash payment of $2,608,000. He—ll get another lump sum of $525,000 from the 2010 Annual Incentive Bonus Plan, and the 131,358 shares of restricted stock he got from the company’s Equity Plan will vest fully and no longer be at risk of forfeiture. Talbot also gets up to $10,000 for his legal fees.

He’s not turning in his fancy bearskin hat, though (or whatever Symetra’s equivalent of that would be). He’s staying on as a consultant through June 30, 2011. He’s obligated to provide his —expertise, advice and assistance so long as that doesn—t require more than 20 hours of his time per month. In exchange, Symetra will pay Talbot $20,000 per month (which works out to a minimum of $1,000 per hour), plus provide him with office space and administrative support.

Meanwhile, the incoming —Guard — Thomas Marra — will start with a base salary of $525,000. His target bonus for 2010 will be 100% of his salary, and he—ll get a LTIP grant of performance units and RSUs worth about $2.5 million for the 2010-2012 performance cycle. In addition, Marra’s getting options to purchase 1,250,000 shares of common stock at a strike price of $28.00 per share to —further incentivize [him] to create great results for the shareholders of Symetra. Those options will cliff vest on June 30, 2017 and expire a year later.

Finally, the filing states:

—The board understands and agrees that, at this time, you do not intend to relocate to Bellevue, WA. Our expectation is that you will be at the Company’s headquarters on an as needed basis for carrying out your duties and that, on average, you will spend not less than 10 working days per month in Bellevue.

Symetra agreed to pay for Marra’s first-class airfare, an —appropriate corporate apartment, and reasonable expenses to move whatever he needs to Washington.

The guards in Britain may have cooler uniforms, but we suspect that most people would opt for Symetra’s style of changing the guard.

Image source: RightIndex via Flickr


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