Lionsgate-Starz Deal: Albrecht Can Be Fired After January 7

But it’ll cost the company handsomely

Chris Albrecht re-upped as Starz CEO Monday, tacking on the title of president for a new deal through 2020. Mere days later, his company was bought by Lionsgate, an acquisition that had been in the works for quite a while.

During a Thursday morning conference call, Albrecht received a public vote of confidence from close friend Jon Feltheimer, the Lionsgate chief executive officer.

“We expect Chris not only to continue to run Starz, but also to have a major participation in the leadership of the entire combined company, including joining our executives committee,” Feltheimer said.

“I think the opportunities are enormous,” Albrecht added. “I’m looking to just contribute in any way that I can.”

It seems like Albrecht will have quite a number of years to “contribute” under his new contract. There’s just one weird thing — the contract extension’s accompanying SEC filing contained this somewhat odd stipulation: “The arrangement also prohibits Mr. Albrecht’s termination without cause between July 1, 2016 and January 7, 2017.”

The time period is the potentially strange part. Tomorrow — one day after the Lionsgate news — is July 1, 2016. Furthermore, the merger is expected to be closed “this year,” according to the joint announcement, which basically takes the players up to one week before the end of that conspicuous six-month safety period.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing continued:
“If Mr. Albrecht is terminated by Starz without ’cause’ or if he terminates his employment for ‘good reason,’ the arrangement provides for (i) salary continuation payments through the earlier of 18 months and the end of the term, (ii) a lump sum payment of 1.5 times his annual target cash bonus, (iii) continued coverage under Starz’s health and welfare benefit plans for 18 months, with mitigation, (iv) 18 months accelerated vesting of his unvested stock options and restricted shares, (v) pro rata vesting of his unvested performance-based restricted stock units (‘PRSUs’) based on time worked during the performance period (subject to achievement of performance targets as determined by the Compensation Committee in its sole discretion) and (vi) stock options to remain exercisable until 90 days from his termination date.”

So, sounds like it’d be a pretty comfortable 18 months, at least. It’d be a different story if he is terminated for “cause,” of course.

“If Mr. Albrecht is terminated for cause, the arrangement provides for immediate forfeiture of all vested and unvested equity incentive awards,” the document added. “Further, in the case of Mr. Albrecht’s death or disability, the arrangement provides for (i) a lump sum payment equal to his salary for the remainder of his term plus a prorated amount of salary during the year of his death or disability based on the number of days worked that year prior to such event, (ii) full vesting of any unvested equity incentive awards and (iii) stock options to remain exercisable for one year after his death or date of termination following disability.”

Albrecht’s new employment arrangement will come to include definitions of “cause” and “good reason,” the filing stated.

TheWrap‘s requests for comment to Starz and Lionsgate were not immediately returned.