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Denver-based Chipotle changes executive pay practices after protests

Directors on the compensation committee at Chipotle Mexican Grill have responded to shareholder protests over executive pay, saying they will shave executive non-cash compensation expenses this year.

At the same time, the company also said it will add stock awards more widely outside the executive suite, including to restaurant and field area managers.

In all, the Denver-based fast casual restaurant chain expects non-cash, stock-based compensation for all managers this year to fall to $80 million from $98 million last year, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Some of the decline reflects a shift away from stock appreciation rights paid out automatically each year to stock awards that vest over a three-year period based on how well the company performs versus other restaurants.

Chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells and co-CEO Monty Moran each will receive 14,887 shares if the company scores at the 65th percentile of its restaurant peers on revenue growth, net income growth and total shareholder return.

If Chipotle is at the 35th percentile or lower, they will get only half the allotted shares, but double the number if the company scores in the 90th percentile or higher. Awards will be adjusted on a sliding scale for ranks between the 35th and 90th percentiles.

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