Aspen’s group CFO Scott Kirk has been awarded a long-term retention bonus of $2mn only months after his “change of control” golden parachute payment entitlement was increased.

In an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission this evening, Aspen said Kirk would be entitled to a $2mn retention bonus if he is still in the company’s employment in two-and-a half years time.

It follows comments by group CEO Chris O’Kane on a recent investor call that the firm was expecting to award retention bonuses to a small number of employees identified as “most valuable”.

Aspen is currently in advanced talks with the investment firm Apollo Global Management over a possible $2.8bn buy-out in a sale process managed by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

In March, Kirk and O’Kane were both awarded increases in their “change of control” entitlement - a move that prompted speculation that the firm was contemplating a sale following heavy losses in 2017.

Kirk saw his entitlement increase from one-and-half times his salary and bonus to two times in the event of a change of control.

The payment of $2mn will be paid as long as Kirk is still in the company’s employment on 1 January 2020 and has not resigned or given notice to resign.

In a letter dated 13 August, O’Kane said: “In light of the prevailing market conditions, Aspen would like to recognise a small number of key employees who contribute significantly to Aspen and who play an integral role in Aspen’s future.”

He will also receive the bonus if is employment is terminated before that date unless he is dismissed for gross misconduct.