A December to remember…

March 4, 2005

We’re just learning that December was a pretty good month for Eddy Hartenstein, formerly vice chairman of DirectTV (DTV). On Dec. 22, 2004, he collected $3.6 million as part of a retention agreement he entered into when News Corp. (NWS) acquired 34% percent of DirectTV at the end of 2003. Then, a little over a week later — on December 31, according to DirectTV’s recent K — Hartenstein, who was 53 as of last year’s proxy, decided to retire. His agreement specifically states that he’ll still receive the retention bonus, since he did stay there during the year following the acquisition. But he’ll also collect $12 million as part of the new separation agreement (and have free DirectTV for the rest of his life since it’s hard to pay the monthly bill on that kind of cash). Given the fact that the role of vice chairman has historically been akin to a cake-walk at many companies, it’s hard to imagine exactly what Hartenstein did to deserve that kind of payoff. Granted, Hartenstein’s package is pretty similar to those given to several other former DTV executives when they left in December 2003 as I reported here. But given the stock’s performance over the past year, DTV investors have a right to know what all of these multi-million dollar payoffs are doing for their bottom lines.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.