The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced it will cut 32,000 workers, up from an estimate of 28,000 made earlier this year. More have been put on furlough. The reason is, primarily, because the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered some of Disney’s massive theme parks, a key to the company’s revenue. Disney management took pay cuts as the disease began to hit its results. New Disney CE0 Bob Chapek took a 50% reduction. However, based on his employment agreement, watch him make millions of dollars this year, even as thousands of workers Disney workers go without work for months, or longer.
Disney released details of Chapek’s pay as of February 20 in an SEC filing. His annual base salary is $2.5 million, so even at half that level, he makes well over $1.2 million. But, it is his equity-based compensation that will make him richer. The board’s Compensation Committee will set a “target bonus each year of not less than 300% of the annual base salary.” He will need to hit certain performance objects to get some or all of that money. The history of large corporation CEO pay would indicate he will get at least some of it.
The bigger pay bonanza will be based on another part of his package. “For each fiscal year during the term of the Agreement, Mr. Chapek will be granted a long-term incentive award having a target value of not less than $15 million”, the SEC filing reads. Additionally, “Mr. Chapek will receive additional equity-based long-term incentive awards in respect of his services for the current fiscal year to reflect his service as Chief Executive Officer for the remainder of the fiscal year.” The filing makes it clear Chapek is not guaranteed any of this compensation. Once again, the history of CEO compensation at America’s largest public companies should cause outsiders to believe he will make millions of dollars.
The Chapek deal is part of a long history of CEOs who are paid lavishly while corporate results and employees suffer. The board can make the argument that Chapek is not, of course, responsible for the pandemic. On the other hand, why should be rewarded as Disney falls apart at some of its largest divisions?
And, most of Disney is falling apart. In the most recent quarter, revenue dropped 23% to $14.7 billion. It lost $707 million compared to a profit of $777 million in the period a year earlier. Its theme park revenue fell 61% to $2.6 billion. Its studio revenue dropped 52% to $1.6 billion.
The bright spot was the streaming business, particularly the year-old Disney+. It was, however, the brainchild of former CEO Robert Iger and not Chapek. Nevertheless, as CEO he made the announcement, “The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+ we’re pleased to report that, as of the end of the fourth quarter, the service had more than 73 million paid subscribers – far surpassing our expectations in just its first year.”
Chapek will have a good year, financially, in 2020. Tens of thousands of his workers will see their financial situations crippled. And, as an heir to the work of Iger, it is open whether Chapek is really worth the money at all.