Just eighteen months on from NTL Group's emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection-- and fifteen months at the company's helm -- non-executive chairman James F Mooney has reaped his reward.

Over the past few months, he has cashed-in over 85% of his vested stock options in the cable operator, as well as a separate block of restricted shares, in the process creaming off a cool $12 million (€9.75m; £6.56m) -- or $800,000 for each month of part-time service. On top of a salary and bonus of $1.5m.

Mooney, who is on record as describing NTL's corporate governance as "very, very good", says his stock sales had been approved by NTL's board and were part of a planned disposal of part of his holding over the next two years. Following which he will still own "a large number of shares".

The sale, he claims was spurred by US tax laws. [NTL, which operates primarily in the UK is 100% US-owned.] "The tax bill," Mooney avers, "is roughly 50 per cent of the asset value - so you have to sell. It's crazy, but that's the law."

But according to executive compensation expert Brian Foley who reviewed the regulatory filings for the Financial Times, Mooney appeared to have sold more stock than would be required for tax purposes.

"The speed and size of Mr Mooney's early exit from such a large portion of his vested equity-based awards may give some shareholders real pause," Foley opines.

The bountiful windfall showered on the one-time IBM honcho stems from NTL's virtually unavoidable recovery since it emerged financially restructured from bankruptcy protection at the beginning of last year.

Observers believe that only an intergalactic Big Bang could have prevented the shares from bettering their $17 nadir in January 2003 and reaching a peak of over $70 this year. Some think the shares might have survived even that.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff