Blackbaud CEO Gianoni best-paid executive in S.C.

Blackbaud CEO Mike Gianoni joined the Daniel Island company in January 2014

The chief executive of Blackbaud Inc. was the state’s highest-paid executive at a public company last year thanks to a hefty retention bonus he received as part of a contract extension.

CEO Michael Gianoni earned $11.5 million in 2015, according to a securities filing the company posted last week. Much of Gianoni’s pay is in the form of stock awards he will receive over the course over the next few years, including a $5 million stock award he received in December as part of a contract extension. The new agreement will keep him at the Daniel Island-based technology company through 2019.

That was the highest pay among executives at South Carolina’s largest publicly traded companies, according to a review of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Sonoco Products chief Jack Sanders was paid the second-most, earning $8.7 million.

Blackbaud, which makes software for the philanthropic industry, has been the region’s largest public company based on market value, but it’s likely to be displaced by North Charleston chemical maker Ingevity, which started trading Monday.

Blackbaud said Gianoni’s base pay is comparable to other executives in the state and that his performance since arriving in 2014 justified the retention bonus. said customer satisfaction and stock prices had gotten substantial boosts during his tenure.

“Under Mike’s tenure to date, the company has delivered a rapid wave of innovation within its product portfolio, significantly improved client satisfaction, and has experienced more than 60% growth in its stock price,” Blackbaud said in a statement.

Benefitfocus Inc. has named a new chief financial officer who will come to Charleston this summer after a decade at an Atlanta software company.

Dennis Story will join the Daniel Island-based developer of benefits management software in July. He will replace Milton Alpern, who retired last month.

Story, 52, has held finance roles at several tech companies. Most recently, he was CFO at the Atlanta-based supply chain software company Manhattan Associates, where he worked for a decade.

“His extensive financial expertise and leadership will be an excellent addition to the team as we continue to scale our platform,” Benefitfocus chief executive Shawn Jenkins said in a statement.

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Story will earn a base salary of $400,000, and he’ll be eligible for incentives, with a target bonus of $300,000, according to a regulatory filing. In return for joining Benefitfocus, Story will also receive nearly 120,000 shares of stock over the course of several years; based on closing price, those shares would be worth nearly $4.5 million.

Alpern, who helped guide the company through its 2013 initial public offering, still works with Benefitfocus as a consultant. Ray August, president and chief operating officer, is filling in as CFO until Story starts.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or on Twitter @thadmoore.