General Cinema Corp. joined Disney in side-stepping impending tax hikes by giving its chief executive an early raise.The Chestnut Hill, Mass. -based theater chain added $ 2.8 million to Robert Tarr’s pay packet by accelerating the vesting of restricted stock awarded to him earlier, according to its proxy statement. The action follows the Walt Disney Co. move in December giving chairman Michael Eisner and president Frank Wells a total pretax profit of more than $ 187 million by cashing in low-cost stock options on about 6.6 million shares and selling 5.1 million of them. GCC disclosed in its proxy that in December it immediately vested 88,800 restricted shares granted to Tarr, adding $ 2,830,500 to his cash compensation of $ 1,925,000 for the year. The company took this action in part to preserve tax benefits which might be lost in the future in the event certain tax policies are enacted into law, GCC said in its proxy. The restricted shares previously were to have become vested over five years, a GCC spokesman said. The spokesman added that President Clinton has indicated his administration may eliminate corporate deductions for restricted stock awards to employees that exceed a certain amount, perhaps $ 1 million. Companies sometimes give restricted stock, which gradually becomes vested over time, to top executives as an incentive for them to stay until the stock is vested. The GCC spokesman said that despite the immediate vesting of Tarr’s restricted stock, he has many other incentives to stay at the company.
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