Time Warner Inc. gave even bigger bonuses to Chairman Gerald Levin and Vice Chairman Ted Turner to reward them for the media and entertainment company's success last year, according to documents filed Wednesday.
Levin's bonus jumped to $6.5 million from $4 million in 1996 as New York-based Time Warner recorded its first annual profit since the company was formed in 1989. Turner, in his first full year as vice chairman, saw his bonus leap to $5 million from $1 million in 1996.
Time Warner also extended Levin's contract through 2003, raised his annual salary 43% and awarded him potentially lucrative stock options, the company said in an annual filing with securities regulators.
Time Warner's board said it rewarded the top executives for boosting earnings, cutting its massive debt by $850 million and successfully managing the 1996 merger with Turner Broadcasting System, among other factors.
Levin, also the company's chief executive, will now make an annual salary of $1 million after being paid $700,000 annually since 1990. He also was awarded a one-time option for 350,000 shares, which can be exercised at half-price only if the company's stock doubles in the next five years.
Turner earned the same salary as Levin in 1997.