Rob Marcus has been chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWO) for six weeks, but if he’s ousted following Thursday’s announcement that pay television behemoth Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is buying the second-largest cable operator for $45 billion, he’s going to be floating down from the top of 1 Time Warner Center to Manhattan’s Columbus Circle in one of the largest golden parachutes ever given to a company chief.
The 48-year-old Columbia University-trained lawyer became CEO of Time Warner in January, which immediately tripled both his base annual salary of $1.5 million and his $5 million a year bonus, according to a regulatory filing. This doesn’t include his stock options, estimated to be about $40 million, if he sold all of the shares at Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) current stock valuation.
That means if Marcus were to remain CEO of Time Warner Cable, he would rake in $19.5 million this year and continue to amass a nice treasure chest of stock-based compensation allotments. And if he ends his six-week stint as CEO, his contract stipulates a $50 million change-in-control provision.
While this provision is common in CEO employment contracts, the way Marcus landed it isn’t. It’s unusual for a company to name a CEO, and to include such a provision in the contract, while the company is being shopped around.
Marcus, who joined Time Warner’s legal team in 1998, became chief operating officer in the wake of AOL’s spinoff of TWC in 2009. Marcus is known as a savvy dealmaker, which is why he was named successor to Glenn Britt, who stepped into retirement at the start of the year.
If Marcus receives $50 million for his brief stint heading up the No. 2 cable operator in the U.S., he’ll join an elite club of executives that left their companies with change-in-control provisions worth tens of millions of dollars.