Prominent litigator Viet Dinh will forgo his salary at the parent company of Fox News and Fox Sports through Sept. 30 as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
In a memo from Fox Corp. co-chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch viewed by Bloomberg Law, Dinh is listed alongside a handful of other executives—including founder and co-chairman Rupert Murdoch—as agreeing to go without pay over the next five months as the New York-based media company copes with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Murdoch memo said that roughly 700 Fox executives will see their compensation temporarily reduced from between 15% to 50% to help protect salary and benefits for other Fox staffers. It also noted that there are no plans for employee furloughs or layoffs.
Dinh, an architect of the USA PATRIOT Act, joined Fox as its chief legal and policy officer in September 2018, two years after Kirkland & Ellis absorbed Bancroft, a Washington-based law firm he founded in 2003. Kirkland and Jenner & Block advised Fox last month on its $440 million acquisition of free streaming service Tubi Inc.
Prior to his hire, Dinh stepped down as an independent member of the board of directors at 21st Century Fox Inc., which was in the process of selling its entertainment assets to Walt Disney, whose own high-profile general counsel, Alan Braverman, received a 30% pay cut earlier this month. Disney completed its $71 billion acquisition of those entertainment assets last year and Fox was spun-off to control the Murdoch family’s broadcast news and sports properties, while the Murdoch-controlled News Corp. continues to own print media assets like the Wall Street Journal.
Dinh received nearly $24.13 million in total compensation from Fox during 2019, according to a proxy statement filed by the company for that year. Dinh’s pay package included almost $2.4 million in base salary, a nearly $9.1 million bonus, and roughly $12.6 million in stock and option awards. Dinh oversees all legal, compliance, and regulatory matters, in addition to government relations and public affairs.
Coronavirus Cash Crunch
Dinh appears to be the first law department leader to give up 100% of his pay following the decision last month by a gaming company’s top in-house lawyer to temporarily reduce his remuneration to zero.
Compensation cuts caused by the coronavirus are hitting hard some law department leaders, including Alex Tolston, chief legal officer at Hispanic broadcasting company Hemisphere Media Group Inc., who recently spoke with Bloomberg Law about the 15% pandemic-induced pay cut he’s taking. Tolston earned $2.36 million in total compensation last year, including $490,575 in base salary, according to a 2019 proxy statement recently filed by Hemisphere. And he’s not alone.
Securities filings show at least two-dozen other top in-house lawyers have agreed to reduce their pay within the past few weeks:
- AutoWeb Inc.’s Glenn Fuller; E.W. Scripps Co.’s William Appleton; Immersion Corp.’s Michael Okada; and PolarityTE Inc.’s Cameron Hoyler are taking 10% salary reductions, while Arconic Corp.’s Diana Toman, who just joined the aluminum products supplier, is taking a 20% cut. Others slashing their pay by 20% are Asbury Automotive Group Inc.’s George Villasana; Entercom Communications Corp.’s Andrew Sutor IV; Funko Inc.’s Tracy Daw; Garrett Motion Inc.’s Jérôme Maironi; The TJX Cos. Inc.’s Alicia Kelly; and Washington Prime Group Inc.’s Robert Demchak.
- Eastman Kodak Co.’s Roger Byrd, who took over as general counsel last year, is taking a 25% pay cut. Kodak recently revealed in its 2019 proxy statement that it paid $670,882—including $320,820 in salary—to Byrd in 2019. McDonald’s Corp. disclosed in its own proxy that general counsel Jerome Krulewitch earned $3.25 million last year, including nearly $1.45 million in cash, $642,500 of that sum in base salary. Krulewitch has taken a 25% pay cut with most McDonald’s stores closed, the company said.
- Higher levels of remuneration rollbacks include Lantheus Holdings Inc.’s Michael Duffy slashing his salary by 35%, while THOR Industries Inc.’s W. Todd Woelfer agreed to a 40% pay cut. Among those taking 50% pay reductions are CarGurus Inc.’s Kathleen Patton; Chico’s FAS Inc.’s Gregory Baker; Live Nation Entertainment Inc.’s Michael Rowles; MEDNAX Inc.’s Dominic Andreano; SunPower Corp.’s Kenneth Mahaffey; and Welbilt Inc.’s Joel Horn.
- Eldorado Resorts Inc., a casino operator that has furloughed employees as it eyes a merger with rival Caesars Entertainment Corp., said in a securities filing that chief legal officer Edmund Quatmann Jr. is among several executives that agreed to reduce their salaries by an undisclosed sum as of April 11.