Tesoro VP Offered $400,000 to Stay Through January

SAN ANTONIO -- Just weeks into his job as Tesoro Corp.'s CEO, Greg Goff is taking steps to shore up the company's top management team. He offered Everett Lewis, 62, executive vice president and chief operating officer, a $400,000 cash retention bonus "as an incentive for his continued service to the company," should he agree to stay through Jan. 31, according to a regulatory filing cited by the San Antonio Express-News.

In a letter, Goff told Lewis that the company "recognizes the leadership and industry experience you bring to Tesoro, and that you could choose to retire at any time. Your commitment and contribution to Tesoro's success is not only appreciated but critical during this time of leadership transition."

Lewis accepted the offer June 9, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agreement calls for his bonus to be paid six months after the retention period ends on Jan. 31, the newspaper reported.

The ranks of Tesoro's executive team have been thinned by a spate of recent retirements: Chairman and CEO Bruce Smith, 66, retired June 4; Chief Financial Officer Greg Wright, 60, retired May 5; William Finnerty, executive vice president of strategy and development, 61, resigned March 31 and now serves as a consultant to Goff.

Tesoro has struggled with weak margins as the recession depressed demand for its fuels. The company posted a loss of $155 million in the first quarter of 2010 and a loss of $140 million for all of 2009. Its stock has declined 23 percent since the first of the year.

Consequently, Goff has said he's taking at hard look at the company's seven refineries. "We are going through each refinery and the marketing associated with that refinery and critically evaluating its position in the marketplace -- its strengths, its weaknesses. We need to be able to improve the performance of each one of the assets," he said.

Goff, a former senior vice president of ConocoPhillips Corp. who was named Tesoro CEO on May 1, expects to present a plan for boosting the plants' performance to the company's board of directors in November or December, according to the newspaper.

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