PHILADELPHIA – The chief executive of Comcast Corp. received a compensation package worth $24.7 million in 2008, down slightly from the prior year, according to calculations by The Associated Press that were based on a Friday Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Brian Roberts received a base salary of $2.8 million, up 5 percent from the prior year, and a bonus of $881,000, down 39 percent. This bonus was in exchange for cancellation of certain options to buy common shares of QVC Inc., in which Comcast once held a stake.
Roberts also received a bonus pegged to performance totaling $7.4 million, up 17 percent from 2007, while all other benefits totaled $3.4 million, up 7 percent. These benefits include $417,000 in insurance benefits, $2.3 million for the deferred compensation plan and $393,000 for use of company-provided aircraft.
Comcast requires executives to pay for personal expenses such as home security.
Roberts was awarded $10.2 million in stock and options. However, his 803,000 stock options have an exercise price of $18.98, which means they are worth very little now: At the close of trading Friday, the stock was at $14.50.
Roberts' 276,000 restricted-stock units were worth $5 million on the date they were granted.
Shareholders have been criticizing Roberts' pay package for years, but the topic is particularly incendiary now because of public outrage over bonuses that government bailout recipient AIG Inc. gave employees.
Roberts' pay package also fell between 2006 and 2007.
Out of nine shareholder proposals outlined in the proxy filing, two would give shareholders oversight over executive compensation while one sought to whittle Roberts' voting control, now at 33.3 percent of all outstanding shares. He owns super-voting Class B common stock that give him 15 votes per share. Comcast said Roberts had 87 percent voting control but it was reduced as part of the company's purchase of AT&T Broadband in 2002.
Roberts agreed to freeze his base salary until February 2010 and also gave up his right to receive future reimbursement and tax-related payments for certain insurance policies.
He also agreed to give up the salary, annual bonus and insurance-related benefits that would have been paid to his heirs for five years after his death. The change means that, if Roberts had died in December 2008, his heirs would have received $23.5 million in "golden coffin" benefits, down from $79 million.
The Associated Press formula is designed to isolate the value the company's board placed on the executive's total compensation package in the last fiscal year. It includes salary, bonus, performance-related bonuses, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimate value of stock options and awards granted during the year.
The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which reflect the size of the accounting charge taken for the executive's compensation in the previous fiscal year.