Comcast Corp. will pay the beneficiaries of 87-year-old founder Ralph Roberts his base salary for five years after he dies, according to a compensation agreement filed yesterday with regulators.
If he is suddenly disabled and can't work, the company also will pay Roberts for five years. The company did not disclose Roberts' 2007 base salary but in 2006 he earned $1.8 million. Roberts founded cable giant Comcast in 1969 and is chairman of the board's executive and finance committee.
Comcast spokeswoman D'Arcy Rudnay said Roberts' health was good and the new deal was an extension of one about to expire. According to the corporate filing, Roberts' existing agreement would expire on Monday.
Roberts' son Brian is chief executive officer and chairman of the company, which has more than 24 million cable subscribers in the United States. Roberts' wife is Suzanne Roberts, who hosts a show on Comcast's CN8 channel. He comes to the Comcast headquarters offices several days a week and participates in company functions, employees say.
Alexander Cwirko-Godycki, research manager at Equilar Inc., a California executive compensation research firm, said his firm has not researched separation or termination agreements for company founders like Roberts.
But an Equilar survey in 2006 of CEOs of the top-100 companies showed that terminated chief executives could expect to earn two to three years of salaries and bonus in severance benefits. The median age of those executives was 56.
Comcast's agreement would appear to put the Roberts package at the top end of the separation deals, although Cwirko-Godycki noted that Roberts' severance package only uses base salary, and not bonuses, to calculate the benefit.