Viacom CEO Dauman's 23% raise irks activist shareholder, analysts

After publishing a 99-page slideshow last week taking aim at the media company's management, Viacom activist shareholder Eric Jackson has directed his ire at the eyebrow-raising salary of company CEO Philippe Dauman.

philippe dauman


On Monday, it was revealed that Dauman received $54.15 million in compensation in 2015, despite huge struggles for Viacom last year that included declining linear ratings and ad sales, as well as a significantly eroded position in the pay-TV ecosystem.

Viacom issued a press release last week detailing Dauman's 2015 salary at just over $36 million, which would be a pay cut from 2014. But the statement didn't account for an additional $17 million in bonuses and other ancillary compensation. Dauman's total compensation for the year, which was up about 23 percent over 2014, was revealed Monday in an SEC document

Jackson, who serves as managing director of Viacom institutional investor SpringOwl, isn't happy about it.

"It turns out that Viacom paid its top five executives a combined $85 million in total compensation last year," Jackson blogged yesterday on Jim Cramer's TheStreet. "Dauman had $220,000 in corporate jet usage last year … So, instead of a pay decrease in 2015 when Viacom's stock price fell by some 50%, Dauman's pay actually increased roughly 23 percent year over year.

"That's shocking for Viacom shareholders," Jackson added. "It certainly appears as if the company was doing everything it could to cloud this payment and make it appear that Dauman's pay went down. Didn't they think anyone would notice?"

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to several media analysts, who support Jackson's ire.

"It is a pretty aggressive package for a company that has seen its value deteriorate like it has," Moody's Investors Service credit analyst Neil Begley told the trade publication. "I can't imagine shareholders being pleased." 

"It is clearly not justified," added Gimme Credit analyst Dave Novosel.

For more:
- read this article from TheStreet
read this Hollywood Reporter story

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