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Some final adjustments at AmeriCredit …

More than two months before announcing that General Motors Co. intended to buy the subprime auto lender, AmeriCredit (ACF) made a slew of changes to employment agreements with its top officers: Extending non-compete clauses for some, sweetening severance for others.

The bare bones of the changes were mentioned in a single paragraph at the end of the 10-Q that AmeriCredit filed on May 7, with the details laid out in a series of exhibits to the filing.

Chief Executive Daniel E. Berce got a new employment agreement that day, replacing one dating to 2005, though the company said no material changes were made to its terms and conditions. It still brought him a minimum salary of $950,000, an unspecified bonus and club-membership reimbursement, plus $5,000 a year for legal and accounting expenses.

AmeriCredit also agreed to sell Berce an insurance policy of unspecified size that it had taken out on his life, and to pay him an annual “bonus” to cover premiums on it each year, plus enough to cover taxes owed on that payment. Separately, the company is on the hook for premiums on another $500,000 insurance policy of Berce’s choosing. Last year’s proxy shows the company reimbursed Berce for $61,784 in life-insurance premiums.

If Berce loses his job in the acquisition by GM — or if he quits in some circumstances — he can count on getting the equivalent of twice his highest salary and bonus from the last seven years, or at least $2.3 million using AmeriCredit’s September proxy filing. The agreement also includes a three-year non-competition clause.

While the company says Berce’s agreement isn’t substantially different from his prior one, two other officers got severance sweeteners: Kyle Birch and Brian Mock, executive vice-presidents for dealer and consumer services, respectively, are now entitled to severance equivalent to three years’ pay if they lose their jobs after a change in control. Using fiscal 2009 pay from the most recent proxy, that would be about $1.3 million apiece.

By contrast, CFO Chris Choate and Steven Bowman, the company’s chief credit and risk officer, simply had their non-compete clauses extended to three years.

Does all of this amount to coincidence, or a clue to the deal that was then in the works? With 20-20 hindsight, it sure looks like someone was tying up loose ends.

Image source: Aylie via Flickr