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AMC chief Adam Aron collected $4.5 million bonus from mergers

Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment in Leawood, shared in $10 million in bonuses financed by the theater company’s parent firm in China for management’s “extraordinary services” in completing two $1.2 billion mergers last year.
Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment in Leawood, shared in $10 million in bonuses financed by the theater company’s parent firm in China for management’s “extraordinary services” in completing two $1.2 billion mergers last year.

AMC Entertainment’s CEO Adam Aron collected a $4.5 million bonus last month for “extraordinary services” during the Leawood-based theater company’s merger moves last year.

Aron’s bonus was part of $10 million that was spread among about two dozen executives and one member of the company’s board of directors.

Separately, AMC said a $7 million charge related to the settlement of a lawsuit led it to restate its fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 earnings. AMC had reported the restatement earlier this month but has not identified the lawsuit.

The restatement lowered profits for both the quarter and all of 2016 by $4.27 million.

It left AMC with a profit of $28.97 million for the fourth quarter, or 30.4 percent less than in the same quarter of 2015. It originally had reported earning $33.24 million, or 20.1 percent less than a year earlier.

For all of 2016, the settlement expense reduced profits to $111.7 million, or 7.5 percent more than in all of 2015. It originally reported profits of $115.9 million for the year.

All of the totals include the bonuses. The company declined to comment on the bonuses or identify the lawsuit involved.

Aron had mentioned the $10 million bonus pool in a Feb. 28 conference call with investors and analysts.

“I would specifically like to go out of my way to call to your attention something noted in the (chief financial officer) CFO commentary” accompanying the earnings report, Aron said about the bonuses without indicating how they were shared.

“These bonuses were wholly unsolicited by the management,” Aron had said. “Naturally, we are grateful.”

Aron had said about two dozen members of the management team shared in the bonuses. AMC board member Jack Q. Gao received $1.5 million. He is chairman of the board’s compensation committee and serves as group vice president of Wanda Cultural Inquiry Group and CEO of Wanda Film Holdings Co.

The money came from Dalian Wanda Group, the China-based conglomerate that owns control of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.

Wanda Group contributed the $10 million to AMC without taking any additional economic interest in the company or voting rights. The bonus money “for payment to certain officers, directors and other personnel for extraordinary services in connection with merger and acquisition activity in 2016,” according to AMC’s proxy report to shareholders.

AMC bought U.S. rival Carmike Cinemas for $1.2 billion and European theater giant Odeon & UCI for $1.2 billion. Both deals were completed in the final months of the year.

The mergers made AMC the owner of the largest theater chains in the United States and in Europe, and consequently in the world. AMC’s headquarters also added 125 employees last year in anticipation of the Carmike merger.

In January, AMC said it had agreed to buy Nordic Cinema Group for $929 million, though that deal is not set to be completed until midyear.

AMC’s proxy statement showed that Aron’s $4.5 million merger bonus boosted his total compensation for 2016 to $10.93 million. His compensation included $4.28 million in stock awards and a salary of $991,200. He received an additional bonus of $1.14 million.

Aron became CEO of AMC at the start of 2016.

This article has been updated to correct the amount of Aron’s 2016 salary.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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