Proxy Watch: Lee Enterprises Freezes Execs’ Salaries

Considering all the layoffs Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE) has had this past year — over 50 at its St. Louis Post Dispatch in two rounds of cuts — and its stock price worth less significantly than a $1 for the past few weeks, it’s no surprise that CEO Mary Junck and four other executives will have their wages frozen this year. That piece of information was contained in a proxy statement on Lee’s investor page here.

Still, while Junck didn’t get a bonus last year, she did receive a 3-percent pay raise in October 2007 for a 2008 salary of $850,000. And since targets calling for a 0.9 percent revenue gain were not met, Junck was ineligible for a bonus last year. Four other executives, including the CFO, two VPs of publishing and the VP of human services, were awarded bonuses. All the execs, including Junck, did comparatively well when it came to stock options, though the CEO did considerably less well compared to 2007. Including her salary, Junck received a total of $2.5 million last year, which was down 32.4 percent from 2007’s total of $3.7 million.

— Reverse stock split detailed: Although it received necessary waivers that will allow it to avoid default for the time being, Lee Enterprises is still trying to work its way out of a financial hole. The proxy statement offered some details about its next steps. For one thing, the Davenport, Iowa, publisher’s board will vote on whether to do a reverse stock split, which would involve Common Stock and Class B Common Stock. The company argues that this move will “help improve the perception of our Common Stock and Class B Common Stock” and will appeal to a “broader range of investors.” As the company said last week, the hope is that the maneuver would raise the share price, since it would convert as many as 10 shares. If its board approves the split, the share price could rise between $1.85 and $3.70, depending on what ratio directors choose.

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