CEO signs long-term agreement with studio
With Lionsgate in expansion mode, topper Jon Feltheimer has signed a long-term agreement with the mini-major, extending his tenure as co-chairman and CEO until March 2014.Feltheimer’s previous contract ran through March 2011. Lionsgate also announced Tuesday that Michael Burns had extended his contract as vice chairman until September 2011. Feltheimer, who joined Lionsgate eight years ago, told Daily Variety that the moves underlined the board’s confidence in the company’s current strategies of growth and diversification to establish increased traction in features, TV, syndication and new media. “We’ve been sticking very much to our long-term business principles and expecting to weather the current economic problems,” he said. On Tuesday, Lionsgate shares declined 16¢ to close at $6.65. Shares hit a 52-week low of $5.59 last week. Feltheimer noted that during his tenure, annual revenues have jumped from $100 million to $1.4 billion. In addition, Lionsgate is debt free, with about $250 million in cash and a $340 million credit line that hasn’t been tapped. He added that the length of the pact is typical of those for studio chiefs and noted that the first discussion of the extensions began several weeks ago. Under the new deal, Feltheimer’s base salary of $1.2 million remains the same until 2011, when it rises in accordance with the consumer price index. The pact also provides that he’ll receive 458,036 shares of stock vesting over a three-year period starting in 2012, giving him a 1.5% ownership stake. The new pacts for Feltheimer and Burns come as Lionsgate has been ramping up operations and revamping its senior management for the past year, starting with the purchase of Mandate Pictures. Former Paramount exec Alli Shearmur joined the company in late summer as president of motion picture production and as head of a new production wing. Lionsgate’s goal is to become a more broad-based shop with an emphasis on mainstream pics beyond its signature “Saw” and Tyler Perry franchises and other genre fare. Lionsgate has been notably active on the releasing front in recent weeks, with Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys” and Bill Maher’s docu “Religulous.” It opens Oliver Stone’s “W.” this weekend and “Saw V” at the end of the month, followed by “Transporter 3,” “Punisher: War Zone” and “The Spirit.” In addition to boosting film operations, Lionsgate has also been expanding in new media with a partnership in the FearNet cable channel with Sony and Comcast. It also cut a ground-breaking deal with YouTube to make excerpts from several hundred of its film and TV productions available on a branded YouTube channel. Lionsgate’s received accolades for producing “Mad Men” for AMC. It also produces “Weeds” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”
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