An implied mea culpa from Pinch: what's next?

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Pinch Sulzberger, under whose management the New York Times Company has declined both editorially and financially, is offering a virtual mea culpa today, in the form of a regulatory disclosure and letter to employees revealing that he (and his cousin, Vice Chairman Michael Golden) will forgo stock compensation this year. The move will free up approximately $2 million which will go into a pool to be distributed to employees at the discretion of management. The AP reports:

Sulzberger and Michael Golden told employees in a letter that their pay reduction —— which they described as a personal decision —— would result in about $2 million becoming available for payments to reward exceptional performance by staff who don't participate in the Times' annual bonus plan.

The first round of bonuses would be distributed next February, with a similar amount being paid out the following February, they said.

Last year Sulzberger and Golden received restricted stock awards and stock options valued at $2.2 million, according to the company's proxy statement. Sulzberger got a salary of $1.1 million and a cash bonus of $560,521, while Golden had a salary of $608,960 and a bonus of $233,536.

Golden, who is publisher of the subsidiary International Herald Tribune, has long been rumored to be a replacement waiting in the wings for the moment when family members finally give Pinch the boot.

I have to wonder if the move by Pinch doesn't portend the arrival of rather bad financial news when the company discloses its earnings and files its next 10—K statement with the SEC, due in just a few weeks. It is often the case that announcements of executive compensation cuts happen when bad news is on the way.

Whatever awaits, I find it an interesting coincidence that the announcement comes the day after the company announced the sale of its profitable television station group, a move which I placed in context of the downward spiral of the company's fortunes under Pinch.

Hat tip: Corky Boyd

Thomas Lifson   9 14 06

Pinch Sulzberger, under whose management the New York Times Company has declined both editorially and financially, is offering a virtual mea culpa today, in the form of a regulatory disclosure and letter to employees revealing that he (and his cousin, Vice Chairman Michael Golden) will forgo stock compensation this year. The move will free up approximately $2 million which will go into a pool to be distributed to employees at the discretion of management. The AP reports:

Sulzberger and Michael Golden told employees in a letter that their pay reduction —— which they described as a personal decision —— would result in about $2 million becoming available for payments to reward exceptional performance by staff who don't participate in the Times' annual bonus plan.

The first round of bonuses would be distributed next February, with a similar amount being paid out the following February, they said.

Last year Sulzberger and Golden received restricted stock awards and stock options valued at $2.2 million, according to the company's proxy statement. Sulzberger got a salary of $1.1 million and a cash bonus of $560,521, while Golden had a salary of $608,960 and a bonus of $233,536.

Golden, who is publisher of the subsidiary International Herald Tribune, has long been rumored to be a replacement waiting in the wings for the moment when family members finally give Pinch the boot.

I have to wonder if the move by Pinch doesn't portend the arrival of rather bad financial news when the company discloses its earnings and files its next 10—K statement with the SEC, due in just a few weeks. It is often the case that announcements of executive compensation cuts happen when bad news is on the way.

Whatever awaits, I find it an interesting coincidence that the announcement comes the day after the company announced the sale of its profitable television station group, a move which I placed in context of the downward spiral of the company's fortunes under Pinch.

Hat tip: Corky Boyd

Thomas Lifson   9 14 06