(Bloomberg) -- David Velez, the Colombian billionaire who helped found the world’s biggest standalone digital bank, has given up his stock compensation after shares slumped 64% since their peak last year.
Nu Holdings Ltd. said Velez, who serves as chairman and chief executive officer for the Sao Paulo-based company, asked to end a stock-based incentive program relative to 2021. The executive also declined any new stock compensation tied to performance this year and in 2023, according to a filing. Itau BBA said the decision boosts its forecast for Nubank’s next year net profit by 15%.
The move brings much-needed cost relief for the Brazilian lender, which so far has failed to assuage investor concerns that it will be hit hard by a surge in bad loans and high interest rates. Nubank, which counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. among backers, expects the move to bring savings of $365 million over seven years.
Velez has an estimated fortune of about $4.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He came under fire earlier this year as some investors flagged the contrast between what they deemed generous compensation packages for Nubank’s top management and a lackluster share performance. Stock-based compensation expenses alone totaled about $218 million in the nine-month period ended last Sept. 30.
Nubank has erased about $35 billion in market value since peaking a few days after its blockbuster initial public offering in late 2021. Shares fell 1.8% in New York trading on Wednesday to $4.19.
In a call with sell-side analysts, management acknowledged that the macroeconomic scenario is now more challenging than it was at the time of the program’s creation, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Bradesco BBI analysts led by Gustavo Schroden also welcomed the move, but said the ongoing deterioration in credit quality in Brazil and concerns about the pace of loan growth may weigh on the business.
“We recognize the efforts on the efficiency front, but are questioning ourselves whether this could be a profit warning,” said Schroden, who has an underperform recommendation for Nubank.
--With assistance from Felipe Marques.
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