The nation’s daily newspapers are having a rough financial time of it. At least some of their executives, on the other hand, aren't doing so badly.
Among them is Austin M. Beutner, the former Wall Street wheeler-dealer, Bill Clinton associate, and Los Angeles mayoral candidate who last week took over as publisher of the newly rechristened San Diego Union-Tribune.
Beutner, who also serves as publisher of the U-T’s sister publication, the Los Angeles Times, works for Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, spun off last year from the formerly bankrupt Tribune Company.
Before joining Tribune last summer, the Pacific Palisades denizen had been First Deputy Mayor under Democratic L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and earlier made a reported $100 million when Evercore Partners, the big-money investment shop he co-founded, went public in 2006.
An April 10, 2015, proxy statement issued by Tribune Publishing prior to its annual meeting in Los Angeles this Wednesday, May 27, reveals that Beutner got total compensation of $1,215,763 from the date of his August 11 hiring through the end of the company's fiscal year on December 28, 2014.
With an annual base salary is $675,000 and a performance-based sweetener, according to the document, he is set to make significantly more in 2015 than during his first four and a half months with the company.
Besides the salary of $259,615 paid him during last year's four-and-a-half-month period, Beutner got a bonus of $259,615, a stock award of $337,498, an option award of $337,502, and "other" compensation of $21,533.
"Mr. Beutner's employment agreement provides that for 2014, 2015 and 2016, subject to his continued employment, he will receive annual equity grants having an aggregate fair market value of $675,000 on the grant date, of which half of the value of the award will be stock options and half restricted stock units," the statement says.
"We do not offer supplemental executive benefits of any kind, and perquisites are not a material item of our compensation program," according to the document.
But the statement goes on to say that "in connection with the employment agreement entered into with Mr. Beutner when he was hired, he negotiated a personal allowance" of $40,000 a year.
If the publisher manages to turn his troubled business unit around, he's entitled to extra cash under Tribune's management incentive program. So far, though, that hasn't happened.
"Pursuant to Austin M. Beutner's employment agreement, he was entitled to a minimum incentive amount for 2014," according to the proxy statement.
"Because the 2014 [management incentive program] award Mr. Beutner would have earned based on the actual performance of his business unit did not exceed the minimum amount provided for under his employment agreement, he received the minimum amount provided for under his employment agreement and he did not receive an additional [management incentive program] award."
Speculation in some quarters that Beutner may not remain long as a Tribune executive — and that ownership of the U-T may ultimately be destined for so-far-unrevealed hands — could be fueled by the proxy document's disclosure that the "initial term'" of his employment agreement expires August 10, 2017.
"If we terminate Mr. Beutner's employment without cause (and other than due to death or disability) or he resigns for good reason (which may include a change in control)," the document continues, "we will pay him, in addition to his previously-accrued compensation, severance in a lump sum payment equal to 12 months of his base salary and up to an additional one year of the personal allowance of $40,000." In addition, Beutner's stock awards for the period would automatically vest.
"Mr. Beutner's employment agreement also contains certain restrictive covenants for our benefit, including his agreement not to solicit or hire our employees during his employment and during the 12-month period following termination of his employment. He also is required to maintain the confidentiality of our confidential information."