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Lion rewards top exex for 2000 gains

Full slate of movie releases coming in 2001

MGM chairman-CEO Alex Yemenidjian enjoyed a 63% salary boost to $2.6 million last year — the most profitable in the studio’s 76-year history — and also earned a $1.3 million bonus.

The disclosure came in the Santa Monica-based studio’s newly filed preliminary proxy statement. Yemenidjian, 45, was appointed studio topper in April 1999 and went without a bonus that year while receiving a $1.6 million salary.

Vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk, 44, appointed two days after Yemenidjian, got an even bigger boost last year over his partial-year salary in ’99. McGurk’s salary rose 75% to $2.1 million, and he got his first annual bonus of almost $1.1 million.

Yemenidjian received no stock options last year after getting 10 million options as additional compensation in the previous year. McGurk got 150,000 stock options last year after getting 3 million in ’99.

MGM chief financial officer and senior exec veep Dan Taylor received an $856,754 salary, $441,629 bonus and 570,832 stock options last year. In the previous year, Taylor got a $774,254 salary but no bonus or stock options.

Back in black

MGM has touted 2001 as a year marking its return to a full slate of movie releasing after reduced production and distribution activity in recent years. But film-library income still helped the studio return to the black last year, with the final quarter of 2000 marking the sixth consecutive quarter of profitability under the latest management team after many years of red ink.

Among other proxy disclosures Thursday, MGM set its annual meeting for 10 a.m. May 2 at the St. Regis Hotel in Century City. Agenda items include the election of directors and a proposal to sell majority owner Kirk Kerkorian another 15.7 million shares through his Tracinda holding company.

The stock move, aimed at funding MGM’s acquisition of a 20% stake in cable programming company Rainbow Media, would increase Kerkorian’s interest in the studio to 83% from his current 82%.

MGM shares rose 7¢ Thursday to close at $17. The stock, hammered of late along with the rest of Wall Street in general and media stocks in particular, marked a 52-week low of $14.94 on Dec. 21 and a 52-week high of $30.38 on May 2.

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