DETROIT — Future and current employees of General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle unit are being offered equity in the driverless tech startup under a new employee incentive plan.
The plan, according to an annual report filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, was approved last year by the GM Cruise Board, led by GM CEO Mary Barra. It became effective on Sept. 12, according to the filing.
Cruise CEO Daniel Ammann -- the former GM president who took over as head of Cruise on Jan. 1 -- stands to make more than $25 million over the next decade if the technology subsidiary experiences a change in ownership or is listed publicly, according to a Reuters review of GM's regulatory filing.
Ammann was awarded 16,914 restricted stock units for common shares of Cruise and stock options for 101,485 common shares of Cruise by the unit's board on Monday, GM disclosed in its SEC filings. Each restricted stock unit carries a value of $1,515, while the stock options only have value if they ultimately become worth more than the $1,515 strike price, according to the SEC filing.
"Mr. Ammann's compensation plan is consistent with CEO benchmarks from tech companies with similar market cap to Cruise and is heavily weighted toward the attainment of specific technology and commercial targets," GM spokesman Tom Henderson told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The plan became effective less than three months before Ammann was named CEO of Cruise in November. Ammann replaced company co-founder Kyle Vogt, who became chief technology officer, effective Jan. 1.
Such an incentive plan is not unique for a tech startup. But Cruise is not a public company and remains part of the automaker. GM, despite pressure from Wall Street to spin off the operation, said it plans to retain Cruise for the foreseeable future.
A GM spokesman said all of Cruise’s more than 1,100 employees are eligible. He declined to speculate how many employees the company expects to participate or allow into the program. Such incentive plans are typically designed to retain senior executives.
The filing says the program was designed to encourage future and current employees “to contribute to and participate in the success of the company.”
GM last year awarded roughly 25 percent combined equity of GM Cruise to Honda Motor Co. and SoftBank Vision Fund, a prominent technology investment firm.
Softbank’s May announcement included investing $2.25 billion in the operations for a 19.6 percent stake in GM Cruise, which includes Cruise and Strobe Inc., a lidar company GM acquired in October 2017.
Honda followed suit in October by announcing plans to invest $2.75 billion for a 5.7 percent stake in the operations.
Reuters contributed to this story.