SBJ/October 5 - 11, 1998/No Topic Name

Panthers execs get options

Florida Panthers Holdings Inc. granted its top five executives 545,000 stock options in the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to a proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

For the executives to use the options, however, the company's stock price must reach $17.25, far higher than the current price of $10.75.

Chairman Wayne Huizenga was awarded 350,000 options. The proxy statement, issued annually by public companies, estimates that those options would be worth $2.8 million by the year 2008, when they expire, if the company's stock price appreciates 10 percent annually. The options represented Huizenga's entire pay package. Since the company went public in 1996, Huizenga has never received any other type of compensation.

In fiscal 1997, Huizenga received a grant for 100,000 options to buy stock at $10 or more a share. The increase in options granted was due to the company's meeting certain financial objectives, including net income of $1.3 million in fiscal 1998, up from a $10.3 million loss the year before, the proxy explained.

The proxy also disclosed that the Panthers expect to receive rights fees from SportsChannel Florida of $3.1 million for the 1998-99 season, $5.5 million for the following three seasons and $6 million for the year after that. The company got $2.8 million last season, the first year of the contract.

The company owns various real estate and hotel holdings, plus the Florida Panthers of the NHL. The company went public in November 1996.

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