Exec resigned after deal backfired

NEW YORK — Ascent Entertainment will pay its former CEO Charles Lyons a surprisingly rich severance package of $3.6 million, the company has revealed in an SEC filing.

Lyons formally resigned Saturday after a two-month leave of absence. He stepped down after a sale he helped arrange of Ascent’s Denver sports assets backfired.

He agreed earlier this summer to sell the Denver Avalanche, the Nuggets and the Pepsi Center arena, to William and Nancy Walton Laurie for $260 million plus the assumption of $140 million of debt. Some big Ascent shareholders protested, calling the price too low, and sued Ascent and Lyons to stop the sale.

They particularly objected to the fact that Lyons appeared to have cut a separate deal with the Lauries. He planned to leave Ascent to join their partnership and help run the teams but declined to release any financial details of that agreement.

Ascent subsequently agreed to sell the assets to Denver telecom mogul Donald Sturm.

The filing said the severance package resolves all “actual and potential disputes between the company and Mr. Lyons.”

Speculation has it that the rest of the company, which mainly comprises an ownership stake in On Command Corp., will be sold fairly soon. Liberty Media is considered a likely buyer, but a number of cable companies might also be interested.

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