Plenty to go around…

May 10, 2006

Earlier today, McClatchy & Co. (MNI) filed this amended S-4, which substantially upped the severance payments that Knight Ridder’s (KRI) top executives will receive once the merger is completed. CEO Tony Ridder, which earlier news accounts estimated would receive $7.28 million in severance, would actually get $9.36 million in severance according to today’s filing, or nearly 10 times his annual salary of $980K last year. Other top executives also will clean up: as a group, they’ll collect nearly $30 million, with each of Knight Ridder’s four other top executives collecting over $4 million a piece.

One other addition to the filing includes the full vesting of all options seven days before the merger is set to close. For Tony Ridder, that works out to 235,666 options. There’s also details on performance units and restricted shares.

What does all of this say about the newspaper business that so many people are wringing their hands over? That there’s plenty of money for the important things in life: rewarding top executives post-merger. The reporters — full disclosure here: I used to work for a Knight Ridder paper — don’t fare quite as well.

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