Comcast is still Brian Roberts’ company. But NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke is the star of the 2016 proxy, filed today at the SEC: With a retention bonus from a new contract included, his compensation was up 36.9% to $46.1 million last year. CEO Roberts saw $33.0 million, down 9.1%
Burke’s contract goes to mid 2020, and includes a $10 million stock grant that vests in 2023. The board says it needed to give Burke the additional stock “to incent him to continue to make decisions that build long-term value for NBCUniversal.”
As a result, his compensation package for 2016 includes $2.8 million in salary, $5.3 million in stock awards, $15.4 million in option awards, $9.9 million in non-equity incentives, $8.6 million change inpension value, and $4.1 million in other compensation. The last category included $3.9 million for the company’s deferred compensation plan and $248,782 for personal use of the company jet.
Roberts’ package consisted of $3.0 million salary, $5.3 million in stock awards, $5.4 million in option awards, $10.7 million in non-equity incentives, $4.3 million change in pension value, and $4.3 million in other compensation — which included $4 million for deferred compensation and $229,644 to use the jet.
The deferred compensation plan is one of Comcast’s best executive perks. It pays 9% interest for income made beginning January 2014, and 12% for income before then. Burke has $106.6 million in this account while Roberts has $58.3 million after withdrawing $66.0 million.
The company’s market value increased 22.3% in 2016. It was helped by investors’ post-election enthusiasm for the prospect of cable de-regulation and tax cuts, as well as solid operational performances at the cable operation and NBCUniversal.
Net income for the year improved 24.1% to $4.2 billion on revenue of $31.59 billion, up 11.0%.
Roberts controls a third of the voting shares, giving him virtually absolute control.
Still, investors will be able to vote on a few resolutions at the annual meeting to be held over the internet on June 8.
There’s the SEC-mandated advisory vote on executive compensation.
In addition, a shareholder proposal asks the company to prepare an annual report on its lobbying activities. “We are concerned that Comcast’s lack of lobbying disclosure presents reputational risks for our company,” the proposal says.” According to the 2016 Harris Corporate Reputation Survey, Comcast ranked in the bottom 10 of the 100 most visible companies, ranking 97.”
Comcast opposed the idea, saying that it would “require us to incur unnecessary expense, would divert management attention away from our primary business activities and would raise potential competitive concerns.”
Another proposal would get rid of the 15-vote a share Class B stock that Roberts owns, giving one vote for each share investors own.
The board says it reviewed the dual-class stock situation this past February and concluded that it would be best to maintain the status quo, and Roberts — whose father created Comcast. Brian Roberts “has been, and will continue to be, an extremely important part of the long term success of our business,” directors say.