Schleyer Restructures, Decentralizes Adelphia

About a month after taking over the top spot at Adelphia Communications Corp., chairman and CEO William Schleyer is making sweeping changes.

Schleyer has restructured the troubled MSO into five separate geographic regions, initiated a performance-related retention plan and hired a new vice president of programming.

Adelphia will be organized into five separate regions from its current seven — Northeast, Central, Southeast, California and a smaller Western region. At the same time, the MSO will expand the size and capabilities of its local management teams in each region to further decentralize its management structure and ensure decisions are made closer to customers.

The operator tapped its current regional managers to head the new units. Former Great Lakes regional vice president Bob Wahl will become senior vice president of the Northeast region; former Central region VP Bill Kent will be named senior vice president of the Central region; former Florida regional VP Dan Hebert will become senior vice president of the Southeast region; and former Southern California regional VP Lee Perron will become senior vice president of the California region.

Steve Delgado will continue to serve as vice president of the Western region.

Two executives who had previously headed up the Southeast and Northeast regions — Larry Brett and Jim Sweeney — resigned.

"This operating model is used by several other MSOs and, after careful consideration, it is the right approach to empower Adelphia's regional management teams," Adelphia chief operating officer Ron Cooper said in a statement.

Also as part of the decentralization, Adelphia will be adding new vice president positions in marketing/sales, engineering/construction, legal/government affairs, human resources and finance to each of the four large regions.

Regional offices will be located in Charlottesville, Va. (Central region), West Palm Beach, Fla. (Southeast), Woodland Hills, Calif. (California) and Monument, Colo. (Western). A Northeast location had not yet been determined.

Aside from the restructuring, Adelphia also hired former In Demand senior vice president of distribution Judith Meyka as its new senior vice president of programming.

In her new role, Meyka will be responsible for negotiating Adelphia's programming distribution agreements with national and regional cable television networks. In addition, she will develop strategies for optimizing the value of Adelphia's distribution platform and contribute to the development and implementation of new-product strategies for the company.

Meyka's appointment casts the fate of vice president of programming Jeff Abbas into limbo. Adelphia would not comment on his employment status. According to a source familiar with the company, Adelphia and Abbas are currently evaluating their options.

"It's just unclear at this point," the source said. "[Abbas] is still with the company, but in what capacity remains to be seen."

Adelphia conducted an open process in filling the programming position, and Abbas was one of the applicants, the source added.

While Abbas's future with Adelphia may be up in the air, Adelphia made moves last week to create a performance-related incentive plan that could give hefty bonuses to top executives.

In documents filed with the court April 4, Adelphia said the retention plan was necessary to attract "highly qualified and motivated employees to assist [Adelphia] through the reorganization process and beyond."

Adelphia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June.

According to the bankruptcy court filing, executive vice presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents and directors would receive annual retention bonuses of 25 percent to 200 percent of their base salaries, tied to Adelphia's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and reorganization expenses. No bonuses would be handed out unless Adelphia achieves at least 91 percent of its performance target.

Bonuses would be paid in cash and in restricted stock once Adelphia emerges from bankruptcy.

Only about 50 employees would initially participate in the plan, Adelphia estimated. The cost of the program would eventually be about $17 million a year. However, Adelphia only expected to pay out about $3 million in 2003 and $6.5 million in 2004 because not all 125 employees would participate.