Astral Media Shareholders Quash $25 Million Payout to Founder Ian Greenberg

The Canadian broadcaster pulled a planned vote by investors on the proposed bonus for the company CEO, before receiving solid support for a $3.38 billion takeover by phone giant BCE Inc.

TORONTO – Ian Greenberg will still emerge a very wealthy man after shareholders on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the $3.38 billion sale to phone giant BCE Inc. of Astral Media, a media giant his family launched 50 years ago.

But just before the special shareholders meeting got started in Montreal, Astral Media pulled from voting an ordinary resolution for a $25 million “bonus and retention” payment for Greenberg, the company CEO.

Astral said it did not put the $25 million payment to a vote “based on the proxies received prior to the meeting," meaning it did not have enough votes for passage.

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The broadcaster will go ahead with a separate $20 million retention payout to Astral’s management and key employees.

The management circular issued ahead of Thursday’s investors meeting indicated the $25 million payout to Greenberg was proposed as he established "Astral as a highly successful ‘pure play’ media company and… would suffer significant future income loss as a consequence of completion of a transaction.”

Greenberg is playing a vital role for BCE through the ownership transition.

Astral shareholders did approve the wider takeover of the company by BCE, which is to fold its TV, radio and outdoor advertising properties into its own media holdings, which include the top-rated CTV network and a stable of cable channels.

“I am very pleased by the overwhelming support of Astral's shareholders in favor of the arrangement. This enthusiastic support aptly reflects the value that the negotiated agreement represents for all Astral shareholders," Greenberg said in a statement following the investors meeting.

The BCE takeover of Astral Media still awaits court and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.