A short-timer stops in at Time Warner Cable…

June 3, 2011

Coaxial Cable

Meet Irene M. Esteves. Last we heard, she was poised to become executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Time Warner Cable (TWC). We hedge that statement because, if this job is like others she’s had recently, she may not stick around long. Not to worry, however — the job-hopping has been rewarding for Esteves.

Time Warner Cable, for one thing, is paying her well (as you’d expect for a CFO), according to the 8-K it filed yesterday afternoon: $800,000 a year in salary, a target bonus of $1.2 million, and a target annual long-term incentive award of $3 million in some combination of stock, options, restricted stock units or other equity awards.

Plus, for signing on and giving up unspecified compensation from her previous employer, she’ll get $600,000 cash; another $220,000 in August of this year; another $240,000 in August 2012; and $3.73 million in restricted stock units, three quarters of which vest in a couple years, and the rest of which vest in three years.

Total: $5 million in cash and equity each year (assuming incentive pay comes in exactly at target), plus one-time grants of $1.1 million in cash and $3.73 million in equity.

It’s probably wise of Time Warner Cable to spread out those one-time grants. Her last gig, as CFO of Bermuda reinsurer XL Group (XL), lasted just barely a year: She started in May 2010, and her departure was announced May 23 this year. During 2010 alone, according to XL’s March 7 proxy, she earned $1.3 million cash in salary and bonus, $1.9 million in equity awards, another $905,293 in options, and $341,522 in perks — including a $100,645 housing allowance, $11,433 travel allowance, $8,055 in financial advice and $189,354 in relocation assistance.

And before that? CFO of Regions Financial (RF) for a couple years, from 2008 through May 2010 — another $1.1 million salary, $2 million in cash bonuses, $1.5 million in stock, and $459,051 in “relocation allowance, reimbursements and payments” plus $148,611 in taxes on those benefits, according to Regions’ March 29 proxy (and the one it filed in 2009). Before Regions, it was a couple years as CFO of the capital management group at Wachovia. (She did work a 13-year stretch at S.C. Johnson & Son at one point.)

As is customary, Esteves heard her praises sung both coming and going. In its press release announcing her arrival, Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn A. Britt enthused:

“Irene has proved her leadership and expertise in all areas of finance and corporate management in an impressive career that has spanned 30 years and some of the world’s largest and most respected companies.”

And last month, when she left XL Group, Chief Executive Mike McGavick called her departure proof of “just how talented our team is” in the press release the company put out. “We’ve always recognized that hiring the highest caliber executives comes with some risk,” he said.

What’s risky for shareholders, of course, has given Esteves a nice payout. Presumably, some of the stock has vesting rules, and various moving benefits can come with clawback provisions, so simply adding the totals up may not give the full picture. Still, in just a few short years, Esteves’ total compensation has risen from $2.4 million in 2008 to a potential $5 million a year at Time Warner Cable — not counting the one-time payments of as much as $1.1 million cash and $2.8 million in restricted stock units over the next couple years.

Not bad for a few years’ work.

Image source: benwatts via Flickr

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