UniCredit's Mustier: How to get not paid

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UniCredit's CEO puts his money where his mouth is.

Jean Pierre Mustier has found a new way of not getting paid – or rather, not getting paid just yet.

Famous for having refused his bonus and taken a 50% salary cut in the wake of the €4.9 billion rogue trading scandal that left Société Générale reeling back in the days when he ran that firm's investment bank, it now emerges that he is going to spend one year's salary increasing his exposure to UniCredit, the bank he now heads as chief executive.

Jean Pierre Mustier,
UniCredit

On November 8, UniCredit announced Mustier would invest €600,000 in UniCredit shares and a further €600,000 in the bank's additional tier-1 (AT1) paper.

Mustier has already made several pay-related gestures since rejoining the Italian bank as CEO in 2016, when he slashed his own annual salary by 40% from what his predecessor had been paid, reducing it to €1.2 million. 

He also ditched his annual bonus until at least the end of the Transform 2019 strategy plan, and he removed his right to severance pay in the event of leaving the bank.

Economy class

Not only that, but he dumped UniCredit’s private jet and almost always travels economy for short-haul flights.

It's not the first time that he has invested in UniCredit. On March 14, 2017, he spent no less than €4 million, again divided equally between UniCredit shares and AT1 bonds.

As an investment, it hasn't worked out on paper yet. The 140,548 shares he bought in 2017 are now worth roughly 22% less than they were when he made the purchase, and the various AT1 bonds that the bank had outstanding back then are down between 3.5 and 8.5 points.

But Mustier is in it for the long term; he has said that his personal investments will be subject to the same seven-year lock-up as the long-term incentive plan that he is part of.

Given the trajectory of most European bank stocks at the moment, that’s probably just as well.