This CEO is ready to give up a $ 112 million bonus to support his wife’s career

By: Bloomberg |

December 11, 2020 3:47:34 pm

Rubin Ritter. (Image Source: Bloomberg)

Rubin Ritter, co-CEO of online fashion retailer Zalando SE, could take a potential hit of more than $ 100 million for his wife.

The 38-year-old executive said he will retire next year so his wife can pursue her career while he takes care of their children. The move could cost you up to 93 million euros ($ 112 million) in options from a five-year incentive program established in 2018, Bloomberg calculations show. The billionaire couple is expecting their second child.

“I want to spend more time with my growing family,” Ritter said in a statement on December 6. “My wife and I have agreed that for the next few years, your career ambitions must take priority.” Ritter’s wife is a judge.

The decision is a publicity stunt for the Berlin-based company that has been on the wrong side of the debate on gender equality. Zalando, whose clients are mostly women, has a five-member executive board made up solely of white men. It was one of the companies embarrassed last year by the AllBright foundation for failing to engage with any member of the board of directors.

Since then, Zalando has pledged to raise the proportion of women in its top five executive levels, including the board of directors, to 40% by 2023. With Ritter’s resignation, there is “a real chance that Zalando will show that they mean what they said “when filling his position with a woman, said AllBright CEO Wiebke Ankersen.

Zalando is not unique to Germany Inc. in terms of gender inequality. The country’s gender pay gap is among the worst in Europe, and the proportion of female leaders who populate its boardrooms is below that of most industrialized countries, according to AllBright. Only 9.3% of positions on the boards of the 160 largest companies in Germany were held by women last year, he said.

Men who sacrifice high-profile careers for their wives is also extremely rare in Germany. In 2007, Franz Muentefering, then vice chancellor of Germany in Angela Merkel’s government, resigned to take care of his wife, who had cancer. Last year, Andreas Utermann of Allianz Global Investor resigned to care for his three daughters so his wife could focus on her business.

Ritter’s departure will leave founders Robert Gentz ​​and David Schneider as co-CEOs starting next year, deprived of their head of strategy and the face of the company. Zalando, which has combined fashion, software and logistics capabilities to become Europe’s largest online clothing retailer, has been exclusively run by three co-CEOs.

Famous for its corporate culture that resembles a California tech company, with a kindergarten, yoga studio, and rooftop basketball court at its headquarters, Zalando also introduced Silicon Valley-style executive compensation in Germany, with a meager base salary but potentially valuable option packages from moonshot pay.

Ritter joined Zalando 11 years ago and helped catapult the company, which first sold shares to the public in 2014, into one of Germany’s most lucrative IPOs of the last decade.

Ritter was not available for further comment on his decision to resign or the financial impact it could suffer. Still, he and his wife will hardly live on a tight budget. The above options programs will leave Ritter a rich man.

Almost half of the 1.75 million options granted to Ritter under the company’s five-year incentive plan introduced in 2018 will likely have been purchased when he leaves after the company’s shareholders’ meeting next. year.

Each of those options has a maximum value of 97.14 euros, which means that Ritter’s stake in that plan could be worth 76 million euros when the waiting period ends in December 2022. That is if the Zalando shares expand earnings and company sales continue to grow at least 15% a year.

As of December 31, 2019, Ritter also had 2.7 million options from the company’s 2013 incentive plan, a package that would be worth about € 170 million if exercised at today’s share price. Ritter sold shares worth € 39.2 million between May and September, regulatory documents show.

Unsurprisingly, on December 6, the executive characterized Zalando’s breakneck rise as “an astonishing success story that surpassed my wildest dreams.”

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