Countrywide Sets Retention Incentive Bonuses For Top Execs.

Regulatory filings show that Countrywide Financial Corp. has sweetened annual bonus awards for a handful of its top executives as an incentive for them to remain with the mortgage lender.

That's because Countrywide is being acquired by North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp.

Countrywide's compensation committee has approved retention awards of cash and cash-settled restricted stock units for four executives. That's according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

California-based Countrywide agreed last week to be acquired by Bank of America for $4.1 billion in stock.

In recent years Countrywide rose to become the nation's largest mortgage lender. But it's been struggling since last year amid rising mortgage defaults, particularly subprime loans to borrowers with questionable credit histories.