Lee brass insulated from ‘change of ownership’ impacts


Mary Junck

Finally, some good news from Lee Enterprises.

In the midst of stories about layoffs, cutbacks, consolidated “design centers,” smaller papers and higher prices, we learn that there is enough money floating around Lee to upgrade the top executives’ parachutes from golden to platinum.

In truth, I don’t know how big the upgrades are, and I suppose it is even within the realm of possibility that the rewards for these folks have been reduced. But that would run counter to every single action taken by the company’s board of directors in the last 15 years.

Here’s what we do know: Jim Romenesko, the mostly retired media blogger, reported last week that under an SEC filing dated Dec. 10, the top nine Lee executives will receive specified payments “in the event of change of control of the Company.”

According to the story that was the source of the Romenseko piece, the compensation is to be awarded only if there is a change of control “and the participant is terminated as a result of the change of control.”

So, how much would they get? CEO Mary Junck would get just over $5.6 million, Kevin Mowbray, executive VP and COO, would get just under $1.5 million, and Ronald Mayo, a VP, CFO and treasurer, would get $765,000.

Here’s what the other VPs, all with different responsibilities, would get: James Green, $484,000; Paul Farrell, $484,000; our own Mike Gulledge, who is also the Gazette publisher, $495,000; Astrid Garcia, $413,000; Gregory Schermer, $369,000; and Nathan Bekke, $424,000.

So, if Lee were to undergo a change of ownership tomorrow and these nine were let go, they’d walk away with a total of just over $10.5 million.

One funny note: In the report, Schermer’s name was spelled “Schemer,” and a commenter wrote under the Romenesko piece: “The VP Strategy is Greg Schermer, but this spelling works for me.”

There is, of course, nothing else remotely funny about this whole stinking thing.

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