Extra reasons to cheer at AXIS Capital…

Ringing in 2011 was fun, but we bet that corks were really flying at some of the New Year’s Eve parties in Bermuda. That’s because the top executives at Bermuda-based AXIS Capital Holdings Limited (AXS) were also ushering in some intoxicating pay raises that would take effect the next day.

The numbers come from the new and amended employment agreements that were filed as attachments to an 8-K that the company filed last week. For example, John Charman, the president/CEO, is getting a 26% boost to his salary from $1.25 million to $1.575 million a year. His non-equity incentive compensation target – the amount of which will be determined based on the company’s performance – rose to $1.875 million. AXIS Capital notes that it did eliminate a few perks that Charman was getting: From now on, the company will no longer pay for Charman’s club memberships, automobile usage, and financial and tax planning and excise taxes. (There’s no mention that Charman is losing some of his other benefits, though; per the March, 2010 proxy, those include a $180,000 housing allowance and $309,322 for his personal use of AXIS Capital’s leased aircraft.)

Thanks to an extension of Chairman Michael A. Butt’s agreement, he can count on being with the company until Dec. 31, 2012. His compensation numbers actually remain the same – he gets a base salary of $750,000 (although the 2010 proxy states that he got $850,000 for a base salary) and a bonus target of nearly $938,000 – but in consideration for amending his Service Agreement, the company is giving him an award of 100,000 shares of restricted stock. Butt, too, is losing his right to have company-paid club memberships, an automobile, financial and tax planning, and excise taxes. (As is the case with Charman, there’s no mention that Butt is losing either his $180,000 housing allowance or $86,133 of personal flying time on the company’s jet.)

The terms are pretty nice for the rest of the NEOs, as well. Dennis Reding, the Chief Operating Office, will pull in $780,000 a year in salary, be eligible for a target bonus of up to $975,000, and also be eligible for 37,500 restricted shares through the company’s Long Term Equity Compensation Plan (“LTEP”). It appears that this is a raise of about 11.5% for Reding, although that’s difficult to say for sure. His salary information (listing a $700,000 base salary) appears in the 2009 proxy, but not the 2010 proxy.

For John Gressier, the Chairman of AXIS Insurance, his salary will increase more than 13% from $800,000 to $910,000. He’s also eligible for non-equity incentive comp of almost $1.14 million and 35,000 restricted shares through the LTEP .

And, finally, William A. Fischer will continue as the Chief Executive Officer of AXIS Re at a base salary of $885,000 (which appears to be up 18% from $750,000) and with a target bonus of more than $1.1 million. He, too, is eligible for 35,000 restricted shares through the LTEP.

With such exciting news to celebrate, we wouldn’t be surprised if the NEOs completely forgot to make any resolutions for 2011. But thankfully, the year is still young.

Image source: RLHyde via flickr