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Disney’s New Legal Chief Gets Potential $22 Million Pay Deal

Feb. 10, 2022, 10:42 PM

The Walt Disney Co., whose stock price soared this week amid better-than-expected financial results, unveiled a pay package for its new law department leader that could see him earn more than $22 million in salary, bonus, and equity awards.

Disney, which revealed Wednesday its streaming revenue and theme park performance in a quarterly financial statement, also disclosed an employment agreement with newly hired senior executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary Horacio Gutierrez.

Gutierrez, a former top lawyer at Spotify Technology SA, started Feb. 1 as Disney’s law department leader. He received a $2 million sign-on bonus to join Disney, which announced in late December that Gutierrez would succeed its longtime former legal chief Alan Braverman, who retired last month.

Disney will also pay $1.3 million in annual base salary to Gutierrez, who is eligible for a fiscal year-end bonus of up to $2.6 million, as well as $6.5 million in equity awards. Gutierrez was not one of Spotify’s five highest-paid executives in 2021, according to a securities filing by the company earlier this month.

Braverman, who spent nearly two decades in the top legal chair at Disney, received almost $16.7 million in total compensation last year from the Burbank, Calif.-based company. Disney disclosed a temporary consulting agreement with Braverman dated Jan. 7 that reveals he will be paid $40,000 for up to 20 hours of work each month with an extra $2,000 paid to him for each additional hour of service.

Disney’s consulting agreement with Braverman to transition his duties is set to expire March 1 but can be extended by both parties. Disney employs hundreds of lawyers between it and subsidiaries like ABC Inc., ESPN Inc., Fox Networks Group Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd., Marvel Entertainment LLC, and Pixar Inc.

Gutierrez, who joined Spotify in 2016 after 17 years in-house at Microsoft Corp., served as the podcast and streaming audio platform’s chief legal officer and head of global affairs. Spotify general counsel Eve Konstan is now the company’s top lawyer.

Konstan joined Spotify, which has been grappling this year with controversy related to its popular podcast host Joe Rogan, in 2020 after serving as HBO’s general counsel. Spotify hired Regan Smith, a former legal chief for the U.S. Copyright Office, last summer to be its head of public policy and government affairs.

Disney noted that it has recommended to the compensation committee of its board that Gutierrez be granted equity awards with a target value of $10 million. The value of Gutierrez’s total remuneration package contingent on a range of factors being realized by the company’s new legal chief.

Gutierrez’s employment agreement with Disney, which expires Dec. 31, 2024, was signed by the company’s chief human resources officer Paul Richardson.

Disney appointed Richardson, the company’s first chief diversity officer and a former lawyer and human resources head at ESPN, to be its top human resources executive last year. ESPN also promoted former assistant chief counsel Rosetta Ellis-Pilie to be its vice president of talent development and negotiations as of May 1, 2021.

ESPN elevated deputy general counsel Eleanor “Nell” DeVane this past January to succeed Diane Morse as chief counsel for the Bristol, Conn.-based sports network.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com