General Electric has worked out an exit deal for NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker after the entertainment unit closes its merger with Comcast, giving him a package between $30 million to $40 million, the New York Post reports.
The author of the report is our good friend Claire Atkinson, a former Ad Age colleague who just started her position as Business Editor at the Post and is virtually out there alone with this news. And as she writes herself, NBC Universal parent company General Electric said in a statement that the reports of an exit package are "not true."
Despite that denial, Atkinson still published her story, in which she quotes unnamed sources familiar with the situation saying that Zucker has been telling friends that an exit deal has been finalized.
According to her article, Zucker will leave a couple of months after Comcast closes its NBC Universal deal, which is expected to happen in early 2011.
Comcast can’t make any executive changes until the deal is completed.
The report says that currently Zucker "is paid a base salary of $6.3 million with a minimum bonus of $1.5 million and a possible performance bonus of between $2 million and $4.5 million."
Furthermore, the article states, "According to a GE’s latest proxy statement, NBC Universal profit fell 28 percent between 2009 and 2008; it was the company’s second-worst performing unit after GE Capital Finance, which dropped 73 percent during the same period."
A few months ago Zucker received a three-year extension on his contract, but there has been public and private speculation from the day that was announced that it was likely Zucker would negotiate some sort of exit deal once Comcast actually took over NBC Universal.
Comcast has previously said that if the deal goes through that Comcast COO Steve Burke will be the executive in charge of overseeing NBC Universal.
The Post report says that there are three NBCU executives and one Comcast executive who are all making a pitch to Burke to have the "top creative role" once the deal is complete.
The article identifies those four people as "Jeff Gaspin, currently NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman; Bonnie Hammer, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment president; Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal women and lifestyle entertainment networks and Jeff Shell, Comcast’s president of programming."