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Compensation jumps for National Grid executives

The compensation of National Grid’s chief executive and the head of the British utility’s US operation rose more than 50 percent last year, following steady growth in the company’s revenues and profits.

The earnings of these top National Grid executives were in line with those of Thomas J. May, chief executive of the state’s other major utility, Northeast Utilities of Boston and Hartford.

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National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday earned $7.8 million in the last fiscal year, up 56 percent from about $5 million the previous year, according to a recent financial filing.

Tom King, executive director of National Grid’s US subsidiary, based in Waltham, earned $6.8 million, up 58 percent from $4.3 million the previous year.

May, whose pay declined slightly in 2013, earned $7.7 million last year.

The jump in compensation for the National Grid executives was largely driven by stock awards that vested, or became available to cash in. With stock awards, which are viewed by corporate boards as a way to tie pay to company performance, executives typically must wait a few years for shares to vest.

Several past awards to Holliday and King vested during the past fiscal year, according to National Grid. Holliday’s stock holdings were valued at $3.5 million and King’s at $2.8 million.

The pay totals include awards, performance incentives, and other benefits, such as private medical insurance, as well as annual salaries. During the last fiscal year, the base salaries for Holliday and King barely rose from the previous year. Holliday’s salary was $1.6 million, while King’s was nearly $1.2 million.

The compensation figures for Holliday and King were detailed in an annual report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

Fred Kuebler, head of US media relations for National Grid, said in a statement that its executives’ pay is “benchmarked” against other companies and designed to reward success.

“Last year the company delivered solid operational and financial performance, so we believe our directors earned their remuneration,” he said. The company’s worldwide revenues grew about 7 percent to $24 billion in the last fiscal year, which ended March 31.

Although based in the United Kingdom, National Grid has a large presence in the United States, where it has 16,000 employees.

The utility serves some 3.4 million electric customers in Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Rhode Island, and 3.6 million natural gas customers. It reported $13 billion in revenue from US operations during its last fiscal year, up about 5 percent from the previous year.

In comparison, Northeast Utilities serves 3.1 million electric customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire; and nearly 500,000 natural gas customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It reported $7.3 billion in revenues in 2013.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at erin.ailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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