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Uniti Group CEO Kenny Gunderman Paid Less in 2016

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Total compensation for Kenny Gunderman, CEO and president of Uniti Group Inc. of Little Rock, dropped from $6.4 million in 2015 to $5.1 million in 2016, even though he earned a higher salary.

According to the first proxy statement the company has filed since changing its name from Communications Sales & Leasing Inc., Gunderman’s salary was $700,000 in 2016, up from $578,872 in 2015.

CS&L split from Windstream Holdings Inc. of Little Rock on April 24, 2015.

When it announced the name change, the company also said it had agreed to buy Hunt Telecommunications LLC of Metairie, Louisiana, for $170 million in cash and equity. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

And, on Jan. 31, the company closed on its previously announced, $63 million acquisition of Network Management Holdings Ltd.

For the full year, the company posted a $212,000 net loss, or a loss of 4 cents per diluted share, down from a profit of $24.9 million, or 16 cents per share. Revenue rose, up 48 percent to $677.4 million.

Stock awards for Gunderman, executives Mark Wallace and Daniel Heard decreased by 36 percent, 25 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

Gunderman earned $3 million in stock awards, the only category that decreased compared to 2015, when his stock awards totaled $4.7 million. Gunderman also received $1.4 million in cash incentives and $15,170 in other compensation.

Wallace, executive vice president, CFO and treasurer, was paid a $421,154 salary, $609,184 in stock awards, $566,773 in cash incentives and $20,358 in other compensation for a total of $1.6 million. His total compensation rose slightly from $1.5 million in 2015.

Heard, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, received total compensation of $1.22 million, down slightly from $1.25 million in 2015. His total compensation included a $350,000 salary, $401,336 in stock awards, $466,755 in cash incentives and $10,278 in other compensation.

Ronald Mudry, executive vice president of fiber operations, earned $707,929 last year, including a $135,731 salary, $518,107 in stock awards, $32,172 in cash incentives and $4,091 in other compensation.

Mudry, who had been CEO and president of Tower Cloud, was hired by Uniti following its acquisition of that company on Aug. 31. So the proxy did not list 2015 compensation for him.

Uniti stockholders will vote during a virtual annual meeting at 7 a.m. May 11 on re-electing six directors and continuing to do business with auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

An advisory, non-binding vote will also be held on the compensation of executives.

The company appointed two people to the board last year, increasing its membership from four to six.

Scott Bruce was appointed to the board on June 29 as part of Uniti’s agreement to acquire and merge with PEG Bandwidth LLC.

Andrew Frey was appointed to the board on Aug. 9 to satisfy an agreement between the company and Searchlight II CLS LP, an affiliate of Searchlight Capital Partners LP. The agreement facilitated Searchlight’s acquisition of 10 million shares of Uniti’s common stock disposed of by Windstream Holdings Inc.

Searchlight will, on an annual basis, designate a director candidate for election to the board, provided that it maintains ownership of at least 5 percent of Uniti’s common stock through June 15, 2019, and 8 percent after that date.

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