Wednesday 29 January 2020

Amazon's staff in Ireland set for $50m share windfall over two years

Chief executive Jeff Bezos hailed Amazon as an employer. Photo: Bloomberg
Chief executive Jeff Bezos hailed Amazon as an employer. Photo: Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Staff at the Irish units of internet giant Amazon are set to reap a total of almost $50m (€44m) worth of share awards this year and in 2017.

The move comes as Jeff Bezos, the founder of the world's most valuable retailer, this week extolled Amazon as "the best place in the world to fail".

The company employs about 1,700 people in Ireland, roughly evenly split between its customer support operations in Cork and data centre facilities located around Dublin.

About 840 staff are employed in Cork via the Amazon CS Ireland subsidiary. Another 860 or so are employed at its data centre operations via the Amazon Data Services unit.

Most of the share awards made to staff in Ireland are so-called Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) that vest over two to five years and have no exercise price.

That means that staff don't have to fork out any money to ensure they secure those shares, as long as they are still working with the company.

"We utilise restricted stock units as our primary vehicle for equity compensation because we believe this compensation model aligns the long-term interests of our shareholders and employees," Amazon notes in its annual report.

Newly-filed accounts for both Amazon CS Ireland and Amazon Data Services reveal details on its stock compensation scheme for staff in Ireland.

It allocated a total of over €12.5m for share-based awards for the more than 1,700 staff here last year.

Filings for its operations in Ireland show that 860 staff at its data centre facilities in Dublin were allocated €8.3m in share awards in 2015.

Almost 840 staff at its customer service operations that are based in Cork were allocated €4.2m worth of awards.

Those are in the form of restricted stock units that won't vest for a number of years, however.

But the accounts for the two subsidiaries note that 16,837 restricted stock units are due to vest this year for staff at Amazon CS Ireland, and an additional 24,978 at Amazon Data Services. Those shares are currently worth $24.5m (€21.5m) based on Amazon's share price of $586 on Tuesday.

In 2017, 14,887 restricted stock units are due to vest at Amazon CS Ireland, and 30,161 at Amazon Data Services. Based on the current share price, they're worth $26.4m.

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