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Amex CEO Chenault Reaps $15.4 Million After Exercising Options

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American Express Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth I. Chenault netted $15.4 million before taxes from the exercise of stock options and the sale of restricted shares.

Chenault, 61, disposed of 519,137 shares on Feb. 8 at an average of $61.85 apiece after exercising an option to buy the shares for $43.98 each, for proceeds of $7.69 million, according to a regulatory filing Feb. 11 from the New York-based company. He reaped $7.7 million from additional share sales, the filing shows. The CEO still owns 914,642 common shares, compared with about 1 million before the transactions.

Amex, the biggest U.S. credit-card issuer by customer spending, said last month that it plans to eliminate about 5,400 jobs, with the heaviest cuts coming in the travel business, as consumers and businesses rely more on digital technology for bookings. The company said Jan. 17 that net income dropped 47 percent on costs tied to severance and changes in how the firm estimates future redemptions of credit-card rewards.

The options, which began vesting in 2005, were worthless during the financial crisis as American Express shares plunged from more than $50 a share in May 2008 to as low as $9.71 in March 2009. The stock has surged 504 percent since then, closing Feb. 11 at $61.98.

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