Irving Azoff has long been derided in Hollywood as the “Poison Dwarf” because of his size and demeanor. But Ticketmaster sure likes its CEO in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s. Even as his company laid off 5% of its employees last year, cash just pours into Azoff’s pockets. So says the preliminary proxy made public for his company’s proposed take-over of Live Nation. (Photo above by Asa Mathat)
First, Azoff’s management company Front Line – which handles more than 200 acts including the Eagles and Christina Aguilera, and which Ticketmaster bought last October — paid him his guaranteed annual $2 million in salary and $2 million bonus last year. Then “in light of Front Line’s exceptional performance in 2008,” Ticketmaster Chairman Barry Diller persuaded the board to give Azoff an additional $1 million. Azoff-owned ATC Aviation got another $229,542 from Ticketmaster for the two months last year when he used an ATC plane. But the most jaw-dropping numbers show up when you see what happens if Azoff dies, becomes disabled, resigns for “good reason,” or gets terminated without cause. Then he gets to vest stock with a market value of $77.9 million plus $13.1 million to make up for his tax payments. (Disney’s Bob Iger also has one of these Golden Coffins, whereby CEOs get paid even after they die. And it stinks like a rotting corpse.)
While he’s still alive, Azoff takes good care of his family: His daughter, Allison, got $225,000 in cash and bonus, plus $21,964 in auto expenses, last year for being a non-executive officer at Front Line. Her husband Richard Statter is a non-executive officer at Ticketmaster, and Azoff’s son, Jeffrey, has a similar position at Front Line although they don’t make enough to be included in the public filing. So, how much will Azoff make if the deal with Live Nation closes? According to the filing, Ticketmaster and Azoff are “currently discussing” that.