Running a major newspaper group like Fairfax will make you wealthy, but it’s nothing like being among the chosen ones at Kerry Stokes’ media empire, or James Packer’s acolytes at PBL.
The 2007 annual reports of Seven, PBL and Fairfax were released late Friday on the eve of the weekend football finals and the long holiday weekend in NSW.
The annual pay and sundry rewards for David Leckie, CEO of the Seven Media Group and his PBL counterpart, John Alexander, are prime illustrations of the get rich syndrome. Leckie shows that as fat as the salaries are at Packerdom, there’s nothing like leaving the empire to generate real wealth. Nick Falloon, PBL’s former CEO and now executive chairman of Ten, is another who can testify to that.
The annual pay of David Leckie at Seven was $3.397 million while at PBL Alexander was paid a total of $6.67 million (down a million dollars from 2006). Fairfax’s David Kirk was paid $2.7656 million ($2.841 million in 2006).
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Leckie was far more successful, driving Seven to the top of the heap in terms of ratings, revenue and profits: Alexander had a hand in destroying value at Nine (but doing an OK job at ACP Magazines). He was involved in the sale of 75% of PBL Media to the bunnies at CVC.
But the Seven annual report shows that Leckie now has 3.056 million Seven shares, worth just over $40 million at Friday’s close of $13.10. (They are owned outright.) That generated an extra $886,500 in dividends in the year to June at 29c a share.
The PBL annual report shows that Alexander owns 1.812,500 shares, worth $35.7 million. They generated $996,000 in dividend income for Mr Alexander on top of his remuneration.
Included in this were 1.3 million shares in the employee share plan worth $25.6 million at Friday’s closing price of $19.70. A company loan of $22.6 million has financed those shares in two tranches of 300,000 and one million units. These vest over five years but to get them the PBL share price has to grow at a compounded 7% a year. The dividends on these shares of $715,000 equals the interest, according to the PBL annual report, on the loan. That’s around 3% a year!
Mr Alexander therefore has 512,000 PBL shares unencumbered, worth $10 million at Friday’s close and which generated around $281,000 in extra income: that’s a long way behind David Leckie.
David Kirk though only owns 410,200 Fairfax shares worth a tiny $1.66 million and which generated just over $88,000 in dividends. Not in the hunt, really, is he?.
Leckie though is not the biggest executive holder of Seven shares (apart from executive chairman, Kerry Stokes with his 92.564 million shares). Bruce McWilliam, Seven’s Commercial director, owns 3.141 million Seven shares, worth $41.1 million. They generated more than $910,000 in income to add to his $2.316 million.
Fairfax and PBL both provided 2006 figures for comparison. Seven didn’t even though it was required to provide them in the financial accounts.
That was laziness as it showed that Leckie’s total pay rose in 2007 from 2006’s $2.268 million. Bruce McWilliam earned a total of $868,000 in 2006, so he has done very well.
Leckie had a further 1.5 million options and McWilliam 2 million options at June 27. If both could get their hands on them now, at $13.10, both are well in the money, Leckie’s to the tune of around an extra $4 million with 1 million at $9.70 and 500,000 at $11.00.
One further point: James Packer owns around 38% of PBL or 261.5 million shares. At 55c a share in dividends that generated almost $144 million in income. Mr Packer doesn’t take fees or pay from PBL and doesn’t need to.
But Kerry Stokes owns just over 41% of Seven, or 92.564 million shares, which generated $26.8 million in dividend income at 29c a share. But Stokes was paid a total of $114,456 for being executive chairman, including a base salary of $105,000.