Viacom Duo Rewarded With $20m Each for Going to Work

19 April 2005

Let no-one accuse Viacom's chairman/ceo Sumner M Redstone of lacking even-handedness with shareholders' cash. In 2004 the razor-sharp octogenarian paid himself a salary and bonus totalling $21.5 million (€16.63m; £11.36m).

And having done himself thus proudly, the 81-year old honcho felt almost as charitable toward his twin lieutenants and co-presidents Tom Freston and Leslie Moonves - on whom he conferred some $20m each for dutifully fulfilling the requirements of their employment contacts.

Such largesse may not impress Viacom's shareholders who have seen the value of their stock decline by nearly 20% over the past twelve months. A Viacom spokesman hastily pointed out that the bonuses were based on operating income, not stock price.

The handouts moved into the public domain following a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday.

Of equal generosity were the duo's expense accounts. Moonves, resides in Los Angeles, but also has a New York apartment in which he opted to stay rather than in an hotel. He was reimbursed $105,000 for this Spartan sacrifice.

Freston was paid $43,100 for the time he spent in Los Angeles staying at his home instead of a hotel. Which suggests either that he resides in one of that city's less desirable locations or that his lifestyle is notably more austere than Moonves'.

The happy couple also benefited from stock-option grants with a potential value of more than $30 million each - albeit valueless at this moment in time given Viacom's current stock price.

Most of the options are exercisable at $35.51 a share and - given that Viacom shares were trading at $34.12 at 09.12 EST Monday - the twin veeps may not have a long wait to make another killing.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff