The gold rush may have bypassed some of the characters on Discovery Channel's Klondike mini-series. But David Zaslav, CEO of parent company Discovery Communications, managed to strike it big.
Zaslav received compensation valued at $33.3 million last year - a drop from the $49.9 million he received in 2012 and the $52.4 million he got in 2011, the company says in its annual proxy.
Zaslav received no stock award last year after getting stock valued at $25.3 million in 2012 and $20.3 million in 2011. Discovery's board said it used "downward discretion" in its compensation plan this year. The board boosted Zaslav's stock option grant to $22.5 million, up 42% from $15.8 million in 2012. The company also paid out $1.5 million to a supplemental retirement plan.
Zaslav gained another $58.7 million exercising previously awarded stock options and another $26.6 million from vested shares, Discovery says. The gains were 300% greater than the $21.3 million Zaslav collected from vested shares in 2012, according to company filings.
Zaslav wasn't the only Discovery exec to hit compensation gold. Discovery founder and Chairman John Hendricks exercised stock options for an $86.2 million gain. That's on top of compensation valued at $7.8 million. Hendricks is scheduled to resign in May.
Zaslav, 54, has been CEO since January 2007, overseeing a cable TV empire that includes the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Plant, the History Channel and OWN.
Discovery Communications says total shareholder return rose 56% last year, vs. 32% for the Standard & Poors 500 Index.
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