- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The board that handles investments for the state’s pension fund announced Friday that trustees have approved $11.1 million in bonuses for staff members who helped produce strong returns.

State of Wisconsin Investment Board trustees finalized bonuses for 150 of the board’s 160 employees Wednesday.

The total bonus amount was down 9.2 percent from the previous year based on a flat performance in the Core Fund, the main source of public pensions, the board said in a news release. The decline marked the second straight year incentive bonuses have decreased.

Chuck Carpenter, a managing director, got the largest bonus at $468,300. Board spokeswoman Vicki Hearing said the area Carpenter manages produced returns of 16.7 percent, exceeding the target return of 13.8 percent.

David Villa was second at $441,900. Todd Ludgate, another managing director, was third with $400,500. Their bonuses all exceeded their annual six-figure salaries.

The board’s executive director, Michael Williamson, received a $378,500 bonus on top of his $315,350 annual salary. He defended the bonus program in the news release, saying it allows the board to recruit top performers.

“We are in a war for talent and the incentive compensation plan is working as intended with payments directly tied to performance,” Williamson said.

The investment board manages about $100 billion in assets. About $92 billion of that comprises the Wisconsin Retirement System, with $85.3 billion in the Core Fund with holdings in global stocks, bonds and real estate and $6.7 billion in the Variable Fund, an optional stock fund.

The bonuses are based on investment performance above return goals over the past five years. The board said in its news release that investments have grown $1.2 billion above targets and costs over the last five years, benefiting some 590,000 participants in the Wisconsin Retirement System.

The Core Fund ended 2015 with a return that was down 0.4 percent but the fund’s five-year return was 6.7 percent, exceeding its benchmark of 6.2 percent on Dec. 31, resulting in larger annuities for retirees.


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