A regulatory filing has revealed that the boss of UK cable operator Virgin Media, Neil Berkett, will leave the business with the equivalent of £58 million ($86.8m) in his pocket after Liberty Global completes its £15bn acquisition (here) of the group.
The new document reveals that Virgin Media’s potential sale was first debated at a social evening during August last year, at which point the UK firm agreed to consider a proposal but only if the valuation was right; it subsequently rejected several of Liberty Global’s initial offers.
Meanwhile Berkett, whom is currently overseeing the Liberty Global takeover, is also perceived as being responsible for helping to pull Virgin Media out of its 2003 bankruptcy. Since then the cable operator has seen its share price triple and customer numbers rise.
Berkett will walk away with around £13.2m in cash and stocks. On top of that he will also receive other operations and rewards as part of a “long-term incentive plan” that will amount to around £45.2m. The pay-out might seem grotesque to some, especially in this time of austerity and the anti-bonus culture, although Virgin Media and Liberty obviously feel that it’s payment for performance (i.e. a job done well).
However the big questions, such as who will replace Berkett and what does Liberty Global’s takeover mean for the operators existing service portfolio, have yet to be answered. Liberty Global has already remarked about the “significant potential to monetize [Virgin Media’s] customer base, with opportunity to deliver current customers enhanced bundled and premium services“.
ISPreview.co.uk has been promised a full comment from Virgin Media and we hope to add that in soon.
A spokesperson for Virgin Media told ISPreview.co.uk very briefly that it was simply “payment for performance“. The operator explained that Neil’s total is predominantly share rather than cash-based and is the result of his success in turning around Virgin Media.
Berkette, explained the operator, has accumulated shares over the years and, with his belief in the company, he has kept them and is now benefiting from the significant value this transaction will create.