It’s a sweet deal, especially when you consider that Discovery shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011 and three of the company’s four other top execs made less than they did in 2010. Zaslav’s compensation, reported in an SEC filing, consisted of nearly $3M in salary, $20.3M in stock awards, $23.9M in option awards, $4.8M in non-equity incentives, and $430,379 in other compensation. The last category includes personal use of aircraft, car service and security services. Zaslav’s pay indicates that the Discovery board considers him a rock star: He made nearly nine times more than the average for the other four top execs — up from 7.1 times their average compensation last year. Corporate governance experts consider it a red flag when the top earner makes more than three times the average for his or her closest associates. The company filing notes that former COO Peter Liguori — who left the company at the end of the year — received a $250,000 bonus for his brief tenure as CEO of the company’s struggling OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. That amount was guaranteed; he was not granted the additional $250,000 that was left to the discretion of the Compensation Committee. But he doesn’t have to wait for the Barney’s warehouse sale before he buys more business suits: His severance package includes a $1.1M base salary, $1.3M bonus, and $212,837 in stock options.
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