Electric Lion | Bonuses despite the turmoil

Despite losses, layoffs and money borrowed from institutions like Investissement Québec (IQ) last year, Lion Électrique managers will be entitled to bonuses. They reach 1.1 million – double compared to 2022. However, founder Marc Bédard will stake the amount to which he is entitled and there is no guarantee that he will pocket the sum.


Published at 12:49 a.m.

Updated at 7:00 a.m.

Despite a turbulent year in 2023, the bosses of the manufacturer of school buses and electric trucks have “achieved their objectives”, estimates the board of directors, in the circular sent to the shareholders of the company established in Saint-Jérôme in view of the annual meeting on May 15.

“The personal objectives set by the human resources and compensation committee […] were consistent with the company’s business plan and strategy, with the aim being to generate long-term benefits rather than immediate short-term positive results which would not necessarily be sustainable,” the document argues. of 83 pages.

These include the completion of factories in Joliet, Illinois, as well as Mirabel (batteries), the launch of two new models (school bus and a city truck) and the certification of a battery model.

Overall, Lion’s top five executives saw their total compensation, which takes into account base salary, bonuses, stock options and other benefits, rise to $4.7 million in 2023. an annual increase of 32%. Taking into account the stock market decline, which deflated the value of senior management’s stock options and stock awards, emoluments fell to 3.4 million as of December 31.

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Difficult year

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Lion’s stock fell by 20% in 2023 at the end of a very eventful year. To replenish its coffers, the Quebec manufacturer borrowed 98 million from IQ – the financial arm of the Quebec state –, the FTQ Solidarity Fund and Fondaction. Convertible debentures, however, come with a rate of 13%. Lion also obtained loans of 90 million from the Saputo family and the Mach Group.

However, this was not enough. To cut costs, the company had to lay off 150 people – 10% of its workforce – on both sides of the border last November.

The challenges are still very present. Its financial cushion remains thin and the company must continue to tighten its belt to hope to achieve profitability. Another workforce reduction took place last February in Saint-Jérôme. Since the start of the year, its stock has fallen 33% on Bay Street. On Monday, the stock closed at $1.55.

Public money in Lion Électrique:

  • 2008 – 2021: 7 million in grants for R&D
  • 2021: 19 million from Investissement Québec for the purchase of shares
  • 2021: 100 million in loans from Quebec and Ottawa
  • 2022: 30 million in loans from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

For Lion bosses, the factors which determine the size of the bonus concern the performance of the company (50%) as well as “personal objectives”. It is obviously this second category which allowed managers to obtain payments. The circular mentions the “carrying out of expansion projects”, such as accelerating the pace in the production plants in Saint-Jérôme and Joliet (United States).

“The personal performance of the targeted senior management member is established according to clear and predetermined criteria for achieving personal objectives,” argues Lion, without however lifting the veil on these criteria.

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This situation can give the impression that the company’s performance does not have a negative impact on executive bonuses, underlines Yan Cimon, full professor of strategy at the faculty of administrative sciences at Laval University. . This specialist in governance issues believes that Lion could make an effort on this aspect.

“Without publishing managers’ employment contracts, could we, for example, reveal the main guidelines that guide personal objectives related to compensation? said the expert. When things are less good in the company, we can still better explain the ins and outs of emoluments. »

Not guaranteed

The founder of Lion is not certain of receiving the approximately $430,000 to which he would be entitled. Since the manufacturer still finds itself in a delicate position, Mr. Bédard agreed not to receive his cash bonus. It will be converted into stock options.

A stock option allows an employee to purchase it and is one of the compensation mechanisms used by publicly traded companies. It is next May that the board of directors should decide on the terms of this agreement, in particular the exercise price of the options. If Lion does not deliver the goods and the price of its stock remains depressed, Mr. Bédard may never receive the sum.

Conversely, in the case of a stock market surge, the Lion founder’s bonus could turn out to be much larger.

Electric Lion in 2023:

  • Revenue: 254 million
  • Net loss: 104 million
  • Deliveries: 852 vehicles
  • Cash in the coffers: 30 million US
  • (As of December 31, 2023)

Learn more

  • 5
    With a stake of approximately 0.8%, Investissement Québec is Lion’s fifth largest shareholder.

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