Discovery, Inc. president and CEO David Zaslav was awarded a one-time discretionary bonus of $4.4 million by the company’s board March 1 in honor of his “exceptional leadership” last year amid the pandemic and ahead of Discovery’s upcoming acquisition of WarnerMedia.

Per a Monday SEC filing, “The Board approved the one-time bonus (which is in addition to the 2021 annual bonus that Mr. Zaslav is entitled to receive under his Amended and Restated Employment Agreement, dated as of May 16, 2021) in recognition of Mr. Zaslav’s exceptional leadership through the pandemic, the successful launch of discovery+ and his efforts in 2021 to initiate, negotiate and enter into the transaction with the WarnerMedia Business.”

According to Discovery, Zaslav’s $4.4 million discretionary bonus is “similar to the discretionary ‘performance pool’ component under the 2021 Discovery Incentive Compensation Plan, pursuant to which the Compensation Committee of the Board approved additional bonus amounts payable to Discovery’s executive officers (excluding Mr. Zaslav) for exceptional individual performance during 2021.”

Discovery has not yet disclosed Zaslav’s base salary and annual bonus for 2021, figures that are customarily revealed by the company in April, but in 2020, his pay fell more than 17% from the prior year, topping out at $37.7 million. That was down from the $45.8 million that Zaslav pulled in the previous year and significantly down from the massive $129.4 million in compensation that the Discovery chief earned in 2018, which included the value of stock options that amounted to more than $100 million as part of a new employment contract.

According to the contract Zaslav signed with Discovery in 2018, his base salary is set at $3 million per year and his target annual bonus at $22 million per year, though the amount for the bonus is not guaranteed and determined by the board based on his performance. Zaslav is also entitled to an optional $12 million in personal restricted stock units.

As Variety previously reported, insiders say Discovery is preparing to close its $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia from AT&T to create new company Warner Bros. Discovery as early as mid-April. Discovery’s shareholder vote on the deal — which has already received regulatory approval from the Justice Department — is set for Friday, and the two companies are prepping for a close somewhere between April 11-28.

Zaslav will become president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery upon deal close, with WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar expected to exit. Zaslav’s first major hire for the new company was Chris Licht as the new chief of CNN, following the ousting of Jeff Zucker after a company investigation found he hadn’t disclosed a consensual relationship with now-exited CNN marketing chief Allison Gollust.

Discovery ended 2021 with $4 billion in cash on its books and it generated some $2.4 billion in free cash flow for the year. Warner Bros. Discovery will shoulder significant debt after the transaction is complete, with Discovery executives vowing to reduce the leverage ratio from about 4.5 times earnings immediately after the deal closes to 2.5 to 3 times earnings within two years.