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Solar Losers: MEMC CEO's Bonus

On a day when MEMC shares were down close to 15%, the solar wafer maker's CEO says he will fork over a $500,000 bonus to employees facing layoffs.

SAINT PETERS, MO. (

TheStreet

) -- On the same day that

MEMC Electronic Materials

(WFR)

led losses in the solar sector by falling close to 15% on Thursday, the semiconductor and solar company said its CEO would fork over his $500,000 annual cash bonus to employees who were to be laid off as a result of plant closings planned for 2010 and 2011.

MEMC finished Thursday with close to $19 million shares traded, versus an average daily level of 5.5 million shares.

MEMC explained in a filing with the SEC that CEO Ahmad Chatila's minimum bonus of $500,000 would be allocated to "training programs dedicated to the approximately 450 employees affected by restructuring. This amount is in addition to the other training, severance, benefits and assistance (including supplemental COBRA payments, one year of group medical and dental benefits, and supplemental educational assistance and retraining opportunities) the Company will provide the affected employees when the two plants are closed in 2010 and 2011."

MEMC did pay bonuses to other senior executives in 2009 however.

While no executives were entitled to a bonus on the quantified metrics for company performance, MEMC reported on Thursday that Kenneth Hannah, president of solar materials, received a discretionary cash bonus of $226,000; Shaker Sadasivam, president of MEMC's semiconductor unit, received a bonus of $195,000; Sean Hunkler, senior v.p. of customer advocacy received a bonus of $108,000; and head legal officer Bradley Kohn received a bond just under $100,000.

In the previous quarter, MEMC had experienced critical problems with its plant in Pasadena, which forced additional operating expenses while also bringing down plant output. MEMC again in the fourth quarter spent more than the street had estimated, but it did outperform several gross margin estimates.

Still, most

solar analysts reacted to the MEMC earnings with mixed feelings , bordering on a negative 2010 outlook.

The only senior officer entitled to a bonus who did not receive one was sales and marketing senior v.p. John Kauffmann.

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On a day when

Oppenheimer & Co. referred to the MEMC earnings disappointment as "nothing to write home about," some of MEMC's senior officers had something to write home about indeed -- between $100,00 and $226,000 things worthy of note on Thursday.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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