WWE exec and pro wrestler Paul “Triple H” Levesque has officially taken the title of chief content officer, and he’s also received a hike in compensation along with three other top company executives.
In addition, the company said it promoted chief financial officer Frank Riddick to the position of president, continuing in his role as CFO, effective Sept. 2. WWE disclosed the info in an SEC filing Friday.
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The changes come after Vince McMahon, formerly WWE’s chairman and CEO, resigned from the company on July 22, amid an investigation by the board of directors into misconduct allegations.
With Vince McMahon’s departure, the company named as co-CEOs Stephanie McMahon (Mr. McMahon’s daughter, who was formerly chief brand officer) and Nick Khan (previously president and chief revenue officer). The company had already announced that Levesque, formerly EVP of talent relations, would take over leadership of the creative team. (Ms. McMahon and Levesque are married.) Mr. McMahon had previously headed the creative team that develops storylines and characters for WWE’s programming.
Because of the changes in the responsibilities of Levesque, Ms. McMahon, Khan and Riddick, the compensation and human capital committee of WWE’s board “determined on August 31, 2022, that it is appropriate to provide certain enhancements to [their] compensation,” per the filing.
Ms. McMahon’s annual base salary increased from $730,000 to $1.35 million, and she will continue to receive payments including the $750,000 guaranteed minimum under her booking agreement. Levesque’s annual base salary increased from $730,000 to $900,000, and he also will continue to receive payments including $1.0 million guaranteed minimum under his booking agreement. Khan’s salary increased from $1.2 million to $1.35 million per year and Riddick’s increased from $850,000 to $950,000.
WWE disclosed new performance-based annual bonus targets for the execs, as a percentage of base salary: for Ms. McMahon and Khan, that’s 160%; for Riddick, it’s 125%; and for Levesque, it’s 100%. They will also receive annual stock grants beginning in 2023 with the following target values: Ms. McMahon and Khan, $3.575 million; Riddick, $2.4 million; and Levesque, $1.6 million.
In addition, Ms. McMahon will receive a one-time special stock grant of $10 million and Levesque will receive $8 million in a one-time stock grant around Oct. 3, 2022, with a three-year vesting period contingent on certain performance metrics. WWE also added new severance-payment terms to the four executives’ contracts in the event of a change in control of the company, according to Friday’s filing.
Mr. McMahon remains a stockholder with a controlling interest in WWE. On Aug. 16, WWE said the board’s investigation into his alleged misconduct was “substantially complete” and the company restated earnings going back to 2019 to account for personal payments Mr. McMahon made during his tenure. That included $14.6 million in payments that Mr. McMahon allegedly made to women to keep quiet about affairs and other misconduct.
Last month, WWE disclosed that it had subsequently identified $5 million in additional payments Mr. McMahon made in 2007 and 2009 — unrelated to the misconduct allegations — that the company said should have been reported on its financial statements. The $5 million in payments made in 2007 and 2009 were charitable donations to the now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation, the Wall Street Journal reported. In 2007 and 2009, Trump had appeared in WWE TV events.
In a statement released Tuesday, Sept. 6, McMahon and Khan said, “We are excited to announce expanded roles for Paul and Frank, which will enhance WWE’s ability to create premium content for our partners around the world and, ultimately, drive our business forward.”
Levesque commented, “WWE is one of the most prolific producers of premium content in the world and I look forward to this amazing opportunity. Having spent my entire career in this business, I’m confident that we have the right pieces in place to continue to grow our audience and deliver for our fans around the world.”
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