New York Times’s Robinson’s Exit Package Tops $23 Million

Janet Robinson, the New York Times Co. chief executive officer who was pushed out in December, received an exit package, including stock options and retirement benefits, of $23.7 million.

Robinson gets pension and supplemental retirement income valued at $11.4 million, performance awards of $5.39 million, restricted stock units worth $1.07 million and stock options worth $694,164, according to the company’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. She will also earn $4.5 million in consulting fees for this year.

Robinson’s exit, which costs Times Co. more than the company earned in the past four years, marks an end to a period during which the publisher’s sales and earnings slumped amid intensifying online competition. Times Co. stock plunged more than 80 percent during Robinson’s tenure as CEO, which began in December 2004.

The departure of Robinson, 61, also leaves a leadership vacuum at Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper. The company, based in New York, faces falling print-advertising revenue, profit squeezed by pension costs, and pressure from members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to restore a dividend once worth more than $20 million annually.

Bloomberg News reported in January Robinson would receive more than $21 million as part of her exit package. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is acting CEO during the interim.

Family Control

The payout to Robinson is equal to about 2.4 percent of the company’s market value of $981.9 million, and exceeds the approximately $3 million the company earned in net income over the past four years. Not included in Robinson’s exit package is her salary of $1 million for 2011, when Times Co. reported a loss $39.7 million.

The company also nominated Steven B. Green to the board, replacing Lynn Dolnick, a member of the Ochs-Sulzberger family that controls the board with 90 percent of Class B shares. Green is married to Chairman Sulzberger’s sister Cynthia Fox Sulzberger. Separately, Sulzberger’s son, Arthur Gregg, a reporter at the newspaper, was recently appointed as an editor on the metro desk, following a path once cut by his father.

The company, also owner of the Boston Globe and, has looked to expand its Internet business amid declining print ad sales. Times Co. now charges readers to access news articles on New York Times, Boston Globe and International Herald Tribune’s websites, a move that bolstered digital advertising and lifted the total paying online subscribers for all those publications to 406,000 as of the end of the year.

Union Pressure

Times Co. began offering buyout packages in October to eliminate 20 newsroom positions at its namesake newspaper and is also pushing for a pension freeze for some New York Times employees, a move that rankled the union members in the newsroom, Newspaper Guild of New York President Bill O’Meara has said.

The Guild, representing almost 1,100 employees at the New York Times, said the company sought to re-open negotiations a day after Robinson’s departure was announced. Robinson’s exit package doesn’t sit well with newsroom employees, O’Meara has said. Even with a pension freeze for currently employed Guild members, O’Meara estimates Times Co. would still have to pay about $20 million to $25 million each year to retirees to honor prior obligations.