Case Analysis: Compensation at Level 3 Communications By Lisa Meulbroek


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Level 3’s unique compensation plan rewarded managers for the firm’s performance only if the firm’s stock price movement exceeded that of the market. This design was intended to maximize shareholder value by tying manager’s performance more closely to that of the firm, rather than tying it to the level of the overall market. The past year had been a difficult one for the telecommunications sector, and Level 3, like many other firms, was concerned about both retaining employees and adequately compensating them. Moreover, Level 3 needed to hire a substantial number of employees over the coming year, and the firm’s compensation plan would play a significant role in attracting good employees. With the annual compensation committee meeting approaching, the CEO must reevaluate whether the plan was successful and whether any changes were warranted. Possible changes included changing its benchmark index from the S&P 500 to another (perhaps more specialized) index and adjusting the size of the indexed option grant and its cash/option mix to produce the right incentives in light of falling stock prices.


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