Freeport's Moffett Departs With $83.3 Million Payday Amid Rout

James Moffett, in 2004.

James Moffett, in 2004.

Photographer: Nick Didlick/Bloomberg
  • Package includes $63.3 million in cash retirement plans
  • In new consulting role, he'll earn $1.5 million in annual fees

Life after Freeport-McMoRan Inc. will have its benefits for outgoing chairman James “Jim Bob” Moffett: namely, a payout that could reach $83.3 million plus $1.5 million in annual consulting fees.

Moffett, who co-founded Freeport, will take away $63.3 million in cash retirement plans and $16.1 million in severance, while the balance is in performance-related stock awards, a government filing shows.

After a combined two decades heading the board and as chief executive officer, Moffett, 77, will be replaced as chairman by Gerald Ford, the Phoenix-based company said in a statement Monday. Moffett departs the board as miners from Anglo American Plc to Glencore Plc extend cutbacks in response to the lowest commodity prices in 16 years amid faltering Chinese demand.

The $83.3 million potential payout was calculated with 562,000 performance based restricted stock units and performance units. The value of the units could fall, lowering the end payout, or Freeport could raise or lower the number of shares Moffett receives based on his performance.

Moffett also had 5.5 million stock options, none of which has value until Freeport’s shares reach at least $18.98. The shares closed at $6.85 on Monday.

In 1969, Moffett co-founded McMoRan Oil & Gas and 12 years later led an effort to merge it with Freeport Minerals. He served as the combined company’s CEO from 1995 to 2003 before becoming executive chairman. On his watch, Freeport rode an unprecedented commodities boom, expanding to challenge Codelco as the world’s biggest copper miner and buying McMoRan Exploration Co. and Plains Exploration & Production Co. in 2013.

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