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Charter's Lovett Inks $10.2M Employment Deal

Newly appointed Charter Communications CEO Mike Lovett signed a three-year employment deal that could bring the executive as much as $10.2 million in total compensation in the first year, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday.

Lovett, who has been with Charter since 2003 and previously served as chief operating officer, was named CEO on Monday. Lovett replaces former Charter CEO Neil Smit, who left the company to become president of Comcast Cable.

According to the SEC documents, Lovett's new employment deal extends to 2013 and includes a $1.3 million base salary, a performance bonus of up to 165% of that base salary (provided he meets certain targets), a $2.21 million retention bonus and long-term incentive compensation valued at about $4.5 million.

The package is about a 2% increase from the total compensation Lovett received in 2009, which was laden with one-time incentives tied to the successful emergence from bankruptcy in November. According to Charter's 10-K annual report filed in February, Lovett received total compensation of $10 million in 2009, including a $757,178 base salary, $5.4 million in stock awards and $3.8 million in non-equity incentives.

And even though Lovett's 2009 package was nearly twice the $5.1 million he received in 2008, it was dwarfed by Smit's 2009 total compensation of $23.8 million, including a $1.5 million base salary, $12.1 million in stock awards and $10.2 million in non-equity compensation.

Lovett and Smit helped steer Charter through its recent bankruptcy, which eliminated about $8 billion in debt and pumped $3 billion in new equity into the St. Louis-based MSO. Charter, the nation's fourth largest cable operator with about 5 million customers, has performed along with its peers despite completing a lengthy and complicated restructuring.