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Liberty Media’s New Legal Chief Nets $6 Million in Three Months

April 17, 2020, 9:32 AM

Liberty Media Inc. saw its new top in-house lawyer earn nearly $6 million in total compensation from five companies controlled by cable billionaire John Malone.

Renee Wilm, a former senior partner at Baker Botts, joined Liberty Media in late September to replace former chief legal officer Richard Baer, who left to become the new in-house legal chief at home-sharing giant Airbnb Inc. Wilm had been a longtime Liberty Media legal adviser in private practice at Baker Botts in New York.

She previously served as a member of the law firm’s executive committee, chair of its East Coast corporate department, and partner-in-charge of its New York office. Wilm and Baker Botts advised Liberty Media on numerous high-profile transactions over the years, including its acquisitions of the Formula One auto racing circuit and satellite radio operator SiriusXM.

Liberty Media, the Englewood, Colo.-based holding company for Malone’s media empire, gave nearly $2.91 million in total compensation to Wilm in 2019, according to a recent proxy filing. That sum included more than $2.3 million in stock and option awards and $558,283 in cash. Wilm also received more than $1.44 million in total compensation—including $48,341 in cash—from Qurate Retail Inc., owner of QVC and the Home Shopping Network.

Liberty Broadband Inc., owner of the Charter Communications Inc. cable network, also gave $830,826 in stock and options awards to Wilm, who received another $614,086 in stock from GCI Liberty Inc., which owns interests in a variety of communications businesses. Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings Inc., owner of the online travel company TripAdvisor, gave $157,598 in stock and options awards to Wilm.

Westward Bound

Wilm did not respond to a request for comment about her compensation. A Liberty Media spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law that executive compensation is separate for the parent company, GCI, Liberty Broadband, Liberty TripAdvisor, and Qurate Retail.

The bulk of Wilm’s cash compensation came from Liberty Media, which paid her a $242,308 base salary last year. That roughly three-month figure was determined by the compensation committee of the company’s board of directors after “considering the scope of her responsibilities as our chief legal officer and the deep knowledge of our company that she gained by representing us as our (and our predecessors’) outside counsel for more than 20 years,” per Liberty Media’s 2019 proxy.

Wilm’s duties as in-house legal chief involved overseeing enhanced risk management and compliance efforts; negotiating executive employment arrangements; providing support to legal departments of subsidiaries and controlled companies; advising treasury and management on capital allocation and structures; and managing succession planning, according to Liberty Media’s 2019 proxy.

This month the company also hired one of Wilm’s former Baker Botts colleagues, Brittany Uthoff, as a vice president and deputy general counsel. Uthoff, who like Wilm specializes in corporate and capital markets transactions, had been promoted Jan. 1 to partner at the firm.

As for Baer, Wilm’s predecessor who moved to Airbnb, he received $302,566 and $259,273 in stock and options awards last year from Liberty Broadband and GCI, respectively. Liberty Media also paid nearly $1.48 million in total compensation—including $567,872 in base salary—to Baer in 2019. Liberty Media gave Baer the additional title of chief administrative officer shortly before his departure.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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