For Clear Channel CEO Robert Pittman, Not Just Any Private Jet Will Do

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (NYSE: CCO  ) has just renewed CEO Robert Pittman's employment agreement. And that in itself is a little odd. The company's share price has shown no real net gain at all since his appointment in October 2011, but perhaps it's early days.

And it's not the $1.2 million salary, it's not even the $2.7 million in restricted shares. It's the specific mention of the make and model of the corporate aircraft to which Mr. Pittman will have access.

I've been writing about pay and governance for more than 20 years and I've never ever seen specific mention of the kind of corporate jet in a CEO employment agreement.

The Dassault-Breguet Mystere Falcon 900 clause

This is how the agreement terms it: "During the term of his employment, CCMH [Clear Channel] will make an aircraft (which, to the extent available, will be a Dassault-Breguet Mystere Falcon 900) available to Mr. Pittman for his business and personal use and will pay all costs associated with the provision of the aircraft."

Now, don't misunderstand me, this is not really a corporate jet, it's an airliner. It's bigger than most of the planes I've ever flown on, usually in the company with another 130 people. There's a picture of it here.

Now, we all know that Steve Jobs had a Gulfstream V, but that's because Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) bought it for him rather than paying him a salary.

But don't worry, if the Dassault-Breguet isn't available, the agreement continues, the company will charter a comparable jet. This is beginning to sound more like a contract between a driver and a car hire firm than a CEO employment agreement. And while we're on the subject of cars and drivers, those will also be provided for Pittman for his use in the New York area or, as the agreement has it, "as well as anywhere else on company business."

What will they think of next?

Ownership spider web

But what can you expect of a company with such a complex structure it's sometimes difficult to figure out who Pittman actually works for? The agreement is actually between him and CC Media Holdings, (CCMH), and he will serve as the chairman, CEO, and director of CCMH, as well as of Clear Channel Communications (CCU), an indirect subsidiary of CCMH. He will also serve as the chairman, CEO, and a member of the board of managers of Clear Channel Capital I, LLC, an indirect subsidiary of CCMH. On top of that he will serve as executive chairman and director of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (CCOH), which is an indirect subsidiary of CCMH, Capital I, and CCU.

What is it about media companies? 

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  • Report this Comment On January 15, 2014, at 9:07 PM, jbsg2m wrote:

    actually the Falcon 900 is a heavy corporate jet, comparable with a Gulfstream IV, and slightly larger than a Challenger 604. They max out at 15 passengers, and can fly nonstop from NY - London.

    Yours faithfully,

    Justin Sullivan

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