ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish Sees 2020 Compensation Grow by $20 Million

Cynthia Littleton
·2 min read

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish got a massive pay bump last year with his total compensation rising by more than $20 million to $38.9 million.

Bakish’s haul was padded by $19.7 million in bonus compensation and another $16 million in stock awards. His base salary for last year was $3.1 million, according to ViacomCBS’ annual proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Bakish’s 2019 compensation package came in at $8.4 million.

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ViacomCBS included a caveat in the filing noting that Bakish’s 2019 total would have been higher but for some accounting decisions related to his $12.4 million bonus and $16 million stock award from that year. ViacomCBS also noted that some 80% of Bakish’s comp is also considered to be “at risk” and dependent on the company’s performance in key metrics.

Christina Spade, ViacomCBS’ former CFO, took in $19.9 million in her final year with the company. Most of that haul — $12.6 million — came from the “other compensation” category in the proxy report, indicating payouts that may have been due to her as part of her exit agreement.

Spade’s successor, Naveen Chopra, had total compensation of $11.3 million, which included $7.5 million in stock awards.

ViacomCBS has come through a roller-coaster of a year that marked the first full calendar year since the two halves of the Redstone media empire were merged in December 2019. ViacomCBS has enjoyed a massive run-up of its stock price in recent months amid movement on the company’s plans to build Paramount Plus into a global streamer.

But ViacomCBS’ stock has also been subject to the gyrations of the market outside of its control, which led to a more than 25% one-day decline last week. ViacomCBS shares had briefly topped $100 last month before they were caught up in the implosion of investor Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital.

Archegos had a large block of shares in ViacomCBS and other firms, including Discovery, that were also tied up in complicated equity derivatives designed to protect the Archegos no matter how the stock moved. But ViacomCBS’ move to sell $3 billion in equities to help fund its larger streaming strategy sent shares down 9% on March 24. Two days later, Archegos was facing margin calls from its bankers to cover the shortfall as share prices continued to fall.

On Thursday, ViacomCBS shares were down 1% at the close of trading to $44.64. (Markets were closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday).

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