Ousted NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell Lost $43.3 Million in Stock After He Was Fired
Jeff Shell, the former chief executive of NBCUniversal, forfeited stock grants and options worth $43.3 million after he was fired for cause, according to a Comcast regulatory filing.
Shell was terminated as CEO of NBCU over this past weekend after an internal investigation into his relationship with Hadley Gamble, an international correspondent for CNBC.
“As previously disclosed, Mr. Shell’s employment was terminated with cause on April 23, 2023. As a result, he did not receive any supplemental payments or benefits in connection with his termination,” Comcast said in its 2023 proxy statement. “He will receive only his accrued but unpaid base salary and vacation time, vested employee benefits and reimbursement for any unreimbursed business expenses in accordance with his employment agreement.”
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In 2022, Shell’s pay package comprised $2.5 million in salary, plus $6.6 million in stock grants, $4.2 million in options, a $7.5 million bonus and $202,775 for personal use of company-provided aircraft, per Comcast’s 2023 proxy statement filed Friday. That would have totaled $21 million (versus $21.6 million in 2021), except that Shell forfeited all his stock and options with his termination.
The Comcast board’s compensation committee “had determined annual cash bonus outcomes in February 2023” prior to Shell’s firing, the company said in the proxy statement.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, on the cable and entertainment giant’s earnings call Thursday, addressed the situation. He said Shell’s exit due to an “inappropriate relationship” with a subordinate was “obviously a tough moment” adding, “we are so fortunate to have a fabulous and tenured leadership team at NBCUniversal.”
In its discussion of Shell’s 2022 comp package, Comcast said that when Shell led NBCU “it continued its momentum in Peacock, which more than doubled its paying subscribers to over 20 million, and our theme parks performed exceptionally well, generating Adjusted EBITDA of $2.7 billion in 2022.” The company added that NBCU “also innovated with new pay windows for early viewing opportunities to better monetize our media content and intellectual property.”
NBCUniversal’s financial performance “was strong in 2022” under Shell’s leadership, according to Comcast, with revenue up 14.2% to $39.2 billion and adjusted earnings increasing by 4.9% to $6.0 billion.
Comcast’s proxy statement also revealed that Robert’s pay package in 2022 totaled $32.1 million, down from $34 million a year earlier. Comcast Cable CEO Brian Watson’s compensation came to $21 million last year compared with $21.6 million in 2021.
Michael Cavanagh, Comcast’s former CFO who was promoted to president of the company last year, saw his 2022 pay package jump 48% to $40.5 million. That included his base annual salary of $2.3 million, $21.1 million worth of stock option awards, $10 million in stock awards and a $6.9 million bonus.
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