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Postmedia losing a third executive who received hefty retention bonus

Postmedia, owner of the National Post, paid retention bonuses to senior executives involved in the company’s debt restructuring.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A third senior executive at Postmedia Network Canada Corp., who is part of a group awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars each in retention bonuses late last year, is leaving the company.

Gordon Fisher, president of the National Post and the Pacific Newspaper Group, will retire at the end of April, the company confirmed on Friday.

In November, Postmedia reported that almost $2.3-million in retention bonuses would be paid to its five most senior employees: $900,000 to president and chief executive officer Paul Godfrey, $450,000 to then-chief financial officer Doug Lamb, $425,000 to chief operating officer Andrew MacLeod, $300,000 to then-executive vice-president and legal counsel Jeffrey Haar and $200,000 to Mr. Fisher.

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Mr. Haar left in late November, and Mr. Lamb's departure was announced in January.

Of the $2.3-million, a total of $1.3-million in bonuses was paid out in fiscal 2016, according to company documents.

The bonuses were related to a debt restructuring that Postmedia announced in July and which was finalized in November. The deal greatly reduced the company's debt load and restructured its equity ownership structure.

In addition to slashing its debt, Postmedia has been engaged in a lengthy cost-cutting initiative, which has included staff buyouts and layoffs across the newspaper chain. Three weeks ago, it announced 54 layoffs at Pacific Newspaper Group, a division comprising the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province – the next step following voluntary severance packages offered to British Columbia employees last year and additional layoffs at other newspapers.

The bonuses were established "to ensure that key employees remained with Postmedia both during and after the Recapitalization Transaction," Postmedia said.

Documents filed in November indicated the bonuses would be paid in three equal instalments on July 15, 2016; Dec. 2, 2016; and July 14, 2017, "subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions."

It is not clear, under the terms of those bonuses, if the executives who subsequently left the company would still receive the entirety of their bonuses because they saw through the recapitalization. Postmedia spokesperson Phyllise Gelfand said she would not comment on "individual employee matters." She said that no one would be hired to replace Mr. Fisher, and that corporate secretary Gillian Akai has taken on Mr. Haar's previous duties.

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"The related salary savings will be counted toward our overall cost savings initiatives," Ms. Gelfand said. Postmedia does plan to hire a new CFO.

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Media and Marketing Reporter

Susan covers marketing and media for Report on Business. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2009, Susan worked as a freelance reporter contributing to the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette and other publications, as well as CBC Radio's Dispatches and Search Engine. She has a Masters degree in journalism from Carleton University. More

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