Liberty Details Malone Pay Raise

Cable-TV tycoon John Malone has a rich pay package that paid him $5.2 million in 2007 and promises him $118 million if he leaves, according to Liberty Media’s proxy statement.

Pay information surfaced early Friday in Liberty’s proxy statement for its June 6 annual shareholders’ meeting scheduled in Littleton, Colo. Two of its eight board members are up for re-election.

Malone, Liberty’s chairman, received the $5.2 million in 2007 pay as a sum of a base salary of $2.6 million plus stock, incentive, pension and other benefits. That’s up from total compensation of $4.4 million in 2006.

Malone’s contract was updated Jan. 1 raising his ceiling for personal-expense reimbursement to $1 million from $500,000 previously. This covers his personal use of corporate jets and professional services such as estate planning. He has a rolling five-year employment contract that includes a $108 million payment if he’s fired for cause.

Liberty’s share price has been weak and the company assailed the pay package of the chairman of InterActiveCorp, in which it owns a 30% stake, earlier this year in a dispute over policy. After losing a court decision, Liberty patched up differences with IAC chairman Barry Diller.

A New York Post article Friday about Malone’s pay package quoted Shirley Westcott, a managing director with Proxy Governance, as labeling it “a little outrageous, frankly.”

Liberty president and CEO Greg Maffei received 2007 total pay that was higher at $9.2 million, mainly due to a $4.5 million stock-option grant. That total compensation is up from $6.4 million the prior year. His exit package is $8.2 million or $18.1 million, depending upon the circumstances of his departure.

Liberty’s biggest institutional shareholders are Southeastern Capital Management with 9.1% voting power, Growth Fund of America with 2.2% and Capital Research with 2%. Malone has a 33% voting stake.

Liberty is at the top of a cluster of six interconnected publicly traded stocks for its cable-TV and media interests.