Riddle me this…

Every now and then a filing comes along that seems to say one thing, but could very well mean something else, like a retention agreement filed in a Cingular Wireless 8-K yesterday. For those who need a quick refresher in recent telecom history, Cingular is the love-child of SBC Communications (SBC) and BellSouth (BLS) and it acquired AT&T Wireless last year.

One of the people it acquired in the AT&T deal was William Hague, who had been an evp for AT&T Wireless. It’s not clear what Hague’s old deal was with AT&T Wireless, but under his new retention agreement that replaces his old AT&T contract, Hague will collect a $250K signing bonus and nearly $1 million in restricted stock (18,729 shares of BellSouth and 19,697 shares of SBC. The shares will fully vest by January 2008.

But what’s particularly odd is that the retention agreement appears to pay Hague more money if he leaves Cingular sooner, rather than later. If he steps down before the end of October 2006, he gets 2.5 times his base salary and some other goodies. But if he waits until Jan. 2008, he gets less.