Ex-CEO Joe Ianniello Exited CBS With $125 Million Golden Parachute

Who said losing your job has to hurt financially? Joseph Ianniello, the acting CEO of CBS in 2019, was paid $125.4 million in total compensation on Dec. 4, 2019, after being shown the door following the Viacom re-merger, according to a regulatory filing.

To put Ianniello’s golden parachute into perspective, it is more than the $100 million Netflix and WarnerMedia Entertainment each set aside for employees and production personnel fiscally affected by the industry shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Ianniello

It’s also just $25 million less than the $150 million fund Comcast established for employees and related personnel financially impacted by the virus.

Follow us on Instagram

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, who also assumed Ianniello’s title following the re-merger, earned $8.4 million in total compensation, which included a $230,769 base salary, $5 million in stock options and $3.1 million bonus. He is set to earn $31 million in the current fiscal year.

ViacomCBS CFO Christina Spade was paid $9.4 million, which included $2 million base salary, $4.9 million in stock options and a $2.5 million bonus.

Ianniello, who was CFO of CBS prior to becoming interim CEO following the ouster of Les Moonves for inappropriate workplace behavior, was paid 2.85 million in base salary, $37.4 million in stock options and another $84.7 million in “other compensation” largely due to severance.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Ex-CBS General Counsel Laura Franco was paid $5.7 in compensation, while in pay, former CBS Chief Legal Officer Lawrence Tu earned $7.2 million.

Disney Executives Forgo Salary, Perks During Pandemic

While some media companies have set aside tens of millions of dollars for displaced workers and production personnel, The Walt Disney Co. is cutting salaries and perks to senior executives as its business units get hammered from all directions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With nearly all business segments either idled or severely curtailed due to shutdowns and consumer quarantines in major markets, Disney will subject its senior executives to significant payroll cuts and related perks, effective April 5.

Follow us on Instagram

According to a regulatory filing, former CEO Bob Iger, who earlier this year transitioned to executive chairman, will forgo his entire $3 million salary, in addition to the use of a company car. Disney will still pay Iger his health care benefits.

Iger’s successor, Bob Chapek, will have his $2.5 million salary cut in half. In addition, general counsel Alan Braverman, CFO Christine McCarthy, human resources chief Jayne Parker, and head of corporate communications Zenia Mucha will see 30% cuts to their base salaries.

Disney said that except for the amount of compensation for paid time off, the salary reductions are not intended to reduce any company employee benefit provided to executives that is determined by reference to the base salary payable, except as may be required at law.

Chapek is still eligible for a bonus of “not less than 300% of the annual base salary,” according to a SEC filing. He is also in line for “a long-term incentive award having a target value of not less than $15 million” for each fiscal year of the agreement through Feb. 28, 2023.

The cuts come as Wall Street downgrades Disney’s fiscal estimates going forward. Credit Suisse analyst Doug Mitchelson, in a note, said his two-week old forecasts for Disney are moot.

“There remains virtually no visibility as to when sports and Hollywood content production will resume and re-openings for theme parks and theaters will take place — we assume beginning of June,” Mitchelson wrote. “As for the media business, the depth of ad declines is also uncertain.”

It should be noted that base salaries are what constitutes the majority of Disney’s payroll taxes and related employee costs. The bulk of senior executive compensation revolves around stock options, which are based on, and compensated by, the stock market.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Indeed, Iger received total compensation in excess of $66 million in 2018 and $47.5 million in 2019 — the bulk of it stock options and bonuses, including a combined $18.5 million if he remained employed with the company past July 2, 2019, and closing of the Fox studio acquisition.

The Disney board  later rescinded the Fox bonus (after fiscal contributions plummeted) and Iger voluntarily forfeited the employment deadline perk.

Netflix Ups Executive Compensation Despite Shareholder Disapproval

Facing a swarm of new SVOD competition apparently requires hikes in executive compensation at Netflix. The SVOD behemoth Dec. 23 disclosed a lucrative 2020 senior executive compensation plan that shareholders largely voted against earlier this year.

In June, 158.66 million shareholders voted against the plan while 158.46 million voted for it. While the margin was only 190,862 votes against, Netflix said the vote was non-binding.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

As a result, co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings will see his base salary (what Netflix pays taxes on) decrease to $650,000 (from $700,000) while stock-based compensation increases to $34 million from $30.8 million. CCO Ted Sarandos, who reportedly once managed a small chain of video stores in Arizona in the 1980s, gets a $2 million salary increase to $20 million and $14.6 million in stock options (from $13.5 million).

First-year CFO Spencer Neumann will receive $6 million salary and $5.5 million in stock options, while chief product officer Greg Peters receives a salary boost to $12.9 million (from $10 million) and stock options of $6.9 million — up from $3.85 million.

Follow us on Instagram

Netflix shares are down slightly at $332.07 per share. The company, which spent $15 billion on content in 2019 remains profitable on paper, despite generating $3 billion in negative free cash flows.

Pension Fund Sues Netflix Over Executive Bonuses

A Netflix shareholder has filed a lawsuit against the streaming video behemoth’s board of directors alleging performance bonuses paid to senior executives were rigged in favor of the company getting lower tax burdens.

The suit, filed by the City of Birmingham Relief and Retirement System in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges performance-based bonuses totaling more than $18 million were awarded by the board to executives CEO Reed Hastings, CCO Ted Sarandos, CFO David Wells, Chief Product Officer Greg Peters and General Counsel David Hyman, among others, for easily-obtainable goals thereby enabling Netflix to reward senior management while also lowering its tax burden.

The plaintiff argues the monies should have been returned to shareholders.

“Through their conduct, defendants rigged the compensation process, guaranteeing Netflix officers huge cash payments while misleading investors into believing that these payments were justified by attainment of real performance goals,” read the complaint.

Netflix scrapped its executive bonus plan at the end of 2017 following the GOP-led tax overhaul. It now pays straight salary to executives as bonuses are no longer deductible under the new corporate tax structure.

Notably, while the suit bemoans “exorbitant, $1+ million per year compensation,” it makes no mention of stock options, which represent of the bulk of Netflix executives’ fiscal largess.

Hastings is slated to receive $28.7 million in stock options in 2018, which Netflix pays no taxes on. Indeed, only Hastings’ $700,000 base salary this year will affect Netflix’s taxes.