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Microsoft prepares to pay more to keep top executives during CEO search

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks during his keynote address at the Microsoft "Build" conference in San Francisco, California June 26, 2013
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks during his keynote address at the Microsoft "Build" conference in San Francisco, California June 26, 2013

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's board has authorized special stock awards to hold onto top executives as the world's largest software company searches for a new chief executive officer, according to a regulatory filing made public on Monday.

The company has not yet earmarked any payments, but said in the filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it "may from time to time make awards to executive officers," partly to ensure "continuity of key leaders during the transition to a new chief executive officer."

In August, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his plan to retire within 12 months, setting off the company's search for a new leader. The board committee in charge of appointing the next CEO has said it will consider both internal and external candidates.

Several Microsoft insiders are thought to be contenders for the CEO spot. No executives were named in the filing.

Microsoft said the awards would be in the form of stock and would range from 25 percent to 150 percent of the recipient's annual target compensation. Senior Microsoft executives are already eligible for a cash bonus and stock awards each year.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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