UPDATE: Lionsgate has extended the employment agreement of CEO Jon Feltheimer for another year, through August 2025, according to an SEC filing.
The decision follows a 2020 extension, which included an option enabling the company’s board of directors to re-up him through August 2025.
Lionsgate’s TV studio has been on a strong run of late, with 14 new shows picked up to series and 15 current series renewed for more seasons. Starz has now reached 37.3 million subscribers. The premium network has been in discussions with a number of potential partners in a reconfiguration designed to reduce strain on the parent company’s balance sheet.
Earlier this month, execs said they plan to make an announcement in September about plans for Starz, which could involve a spinoff, stake sale or other type of transaction to be determined. Vivendi, Roku, DirecTV and private equity firm Apollo are among the interested parties, and Feltheimer indicated that the company’s studio could also be included, especially in light of the earthquake of the Amazon-MGM deal. With that $8.45 billion deal in the books, Lionsgate is the only “the only real, actionable investment” around as a studio, Feltheimer asserted during the company’s quarterly earnings call with analysts. The company’s stock has risen 20% since the quarterly report.
In fiscal 2022, the company revealed last month, Feltheimer’s compensation dropped to just under $5.6 million in fiscal 2022 from $19.2 million the year before. His cash bonus shrank to $2.8 million from $10 million.
Jon Feltheimer has renewed his contract as CEO of Lionsgate further into 2023 than his previous deal, with the company’s board now having the option to extend him for up to two more years beyond that.
The new deal for the longtime media executive, who has run Lionsgate since 2000, expires August 21. When he signed an extension in 2016, it had carried the expiration date of May 22, 2023. The company’s board now has the ability to extend him either one year, to August 2024, or two years, to August 2025.
When the board met last week to approve the extension, according to an SEC filing, it also granted Feltheimer two million of the company’s Class B non-voting shares. They can be exercised in 2023 at $8.17 a share.
The new setup gives the board greater flexibility in terms of the company’s management structure moving forward. Having absorbed the $4.4 billion Starz acquisition and rectified problems in its film division, Lionsgate has been on a smoother trajectory of late, though it has faced challenges from COVID-19 like all studios.
In the TV production arena, the company has coped with pandemic-related shutdowns and obstacles but managed to have all five of its first-year series get renewed. Starz has continued to post steady growth in streaming subscriptions. Now in 50 countries, Starz has extended its reach into key territories like India, Japan and Germany, where it has no linear pay-TV presence.
Lionsgate’s stock has rallied of late after cratering to nearly $4 a share in the springtime. It closed Wednesday’s trading day at $9.43, up almost 3% on the day.
While the news has been upbeat of late, the company remains a frequent subject of takeover rumors given its size and the restlessness of media companies doing battle with tech giants. While it may yet make an appealing target, Lionsgate itself has grown dramatically since Feltheimer first took the controls.
Feltheimer, 68, joined Lionsgate after a run in Sony’s TV exec ranks. He engineered a series of acquisitions of companies, from smaller firms like Artisan and Trimark, to bigger ones like Starz and Summit. The company’s capabilities in film and TV have increased dramatically compared with its early indie and genre days.
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