Clear Channel fires up its checkbook…

January 25, 2012

Last week we wrote about an American executive who got a sweet deal after his employer decided to move its headquarters from Chicago to London. But you needn’t worry that there will be some kind of executive vacuum here in the States: Yesterday we found an equally impressive agreement that will soon transplant a London-based executive to New York.

The executive in question is C. William Eccleshare, who has been working as the Chief Executive Officer—International of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (CCO). The company just promoted Eccleshare to the position of CEO of the entire company Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (including its indirect parent entities, CC Media Holdings, Inc. and Clear Channel Communications, Inc.), which means that he will oversee operations here in the United States and internationally.

Clear Channel included a summary of the terms in Eccleshare’s new employment agreement in an 8-K filed January 24; presumably the agreement itself will be filed soon. The agreement’s term runs through December 31, 2014 and will automatically renew each year thereafter until one side or the other wants to end it. Eccleshare will get an annual salary of $1 million, but that’s just the tip of the compensation iceberg. He will also get a performance bonus under the new agreement that has a target of “not less than” $1 million, although he may earn up to twice that amount; and he can also earn up to $300,000 more for what Clear Channel is calling an “Additional Bonus Opportunity.”

Subject to the Compensation Committee’s approval (and does anyone out there think they won’t give it?), the board also agreed to give Eccleshare $4 million worth of Restricted Stock Units, or RSUs. The vesting of 25% of those RSUs is tied to performance targets, but the rest will vest in 50% increments on the third and fourth anniversaries of Eccleshare’s appointment as CEO.

Clear Channel is certainly doing what it can to make Eccleshare’s move to New York easier: Besides paying for all “reasonable expenses” associated with the move, it’s also giving him an extra $200,000 to cover those little odds and ends that aren’t “otherwise covered by the Company’s relocation policy.” And then there’s this:

“…for the duration of Mr. Eccleshare’s assignment in New York City, [Clear Channel will] reimburse Mr. Eccleshare up to $20,000 per month, fully grossed-up for applicable taxes, for housing in New York City.”

That is enough to rent a 2,700 square foot, 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom apartment on the Upper East Side that boasts some nice touches like Mahogany and oak wood, imported Italian marble, Subzero appliances, and – of course – a doorman.

The full value of the free housing benefit will depend on how long Eccleshare stays in this role and whether this contract will continue renewing annually after the end of 2014, or whether at some point the parties will amend the agreement and change the terms. Eccleshare is young, though. His age in the February, 2011 10-K was listed as 55, which means that he’s probably around 56 by now; thus, a long-term stay in New York would add up to a significant amount of money.

And we can’t overlook the impending departure of Ronald H. Cooper, Chief Executive Officer—Americas, who will leave his job “no later than” February 29, 2012. The 8-K disclosed that Cooper signed a Severance Agreement and General Release (not filed yet) that will pay him a lump sum cash Severance Payment of $2,547,600, plus a 2011 bonus of $385,100.

Apparently, when it comes to money flowing from Clear Channel’s checkbook to its executives, the motto is “Easy come… easy go.”

Image source: Check and fountain pen via Shutterstock

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