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Board member of hedge fund Sculptor resigns in protest over CEO pay

Feb 3 (Reuters) - Sculptor Capital Management, one of only a handful of publicly-traded hedge fund companies, said on Thursday a board member has resigned in protest over how much the company plans to pay its chief executive officer James Levin.

The company said Morgan Rutman has resigned from the board, while adding the assertions he made in his letter of resignation were "baseless".

In his letter, Rutman said Levin is among the highest paid CEOs in recent years and is slated to receive an equity interest in Sculptor that would exceed the holdings of the founders of Apollo Global Management Inc, Blackstone Inc and KKR & Co Inc in their respective funds.

"The Board's governance failures are exemplified by its recent decision to award annual compensation to Sculptor's CEO, James Levin, well in excess of any appropriate comparator," Rutman said in his letter.

"I am thus left with no choice but to resign."

Rutman is the chief executive officer of billionaire investor Daniel Och's personal investment firm.

Och had founded the company in 1994, which was known as Och-Ziff before it changed its name to Sculptor. Och and Levin had a falling out, with the former leaving Sculptor in early 2019.

Rutman also objected to permitting Wayne Cohen, who reports directly to Levin, to vote for the approval of the compensation package, saying it was a conflict of interest.

He added the package could not have been approved without Cohen's vote as five votes were required for approval under the company's governance documents. (Reporting by Sohini Podder and Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)