It pays to be a virgin…

April 18, 2007

images-2.jpegJudging by the proxy that the newly named Virgin Media (VMED) filed recently, being a virgin — and specifically, a virgin who loses his job — can be very lucrative. The company, a combination of British cable companies NTL and Telewest plus the assets of Virgin Mobile and virgin.net (a brief history is here) has certainly gone through a lot of changes in the past year and is currently suing Sky Media in a battle that pits Richard Branson, who owns about 10.5% of Virgin Media against Murdoch scion James Murdoch.

But it’s the changes in Virgin’s executive suite that caught my attention. Of the seven people listed in the summary comp chart, only four remain (though one of those departures was due to death). Simon Duffy, the former president and CEO who became vice chairman — one of the clearest paths to the door that exists — in January 2006, resigned as vice chairman this past January. As the proxy notes, he received $1.8 million for the “non-renewal” of his employment agreement plus some other goodies. A quick search shows that it didn’t take Duffy long to find another job as chairman of South African-based Cell C. Also cashing out was former deputy chief financial officer Neil Smith who received $1.2 million for the termination of his employment contract after stepping down this past February.

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