Comcast founder to get $1 a year

February 13, 2008 7:07:10 PM PST
The founder of Comcast Corp. will give up his salary, bonus and stock grants and will instead receive $1 in annual compensation, according to a regulatory filing made late Wednesday. Ralph J. Roberts, 87, a director and father of current CEO Brian Roberts, previously agreed to a compensation plan that would have paid his beneficiaries his salary for five years after his death, among other benefits. The plan, which became effective on Jan. 1, was amended to change his compensation to $1 starting on Friday.

Comcast's board changed the plan during a meeting on Wednesday at the behest of the elder Roberts, who did not want to be a source of controversy for the company, a spokeswoman said.

Chieftain Capital Management Inc., a major shareholder, had cited the compensation of the elder Roberts among other concerns in a letter to the board last month seeking to oust the chief executive, saying it disagreed with the company's overall direction.

Ralph Roberts, chairman of Comcast's executive and finance committee, was paid a salary of $1.8 million in 2006. His full 2007 salary and benefits will be disclosed when the company files its proxy statement later this year.

The prior agreement would also have given Roberts' beneficiaries whatever portion of his annual performance-based cash bonus had accrued but had not yet been paid out.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing also disclosed that top executives will be taking a smaller bonus for 2007 in light of the company's weakened stock price and lower-than-expected free cash flow levels.

Comcast said it is changing the cash bonus plan for top executives to include how well they manage free cash flow. The Philadelphia-based company said the change will make management more mindful of capital expenditures and working capital.

Shares of Comcast rose 58 cents to $17.81 on Wednesday.