Interpublic Group of Cos. deemed that Nick Brien failed in his less-than-three-year attempt to turnaround McCann Worldgroup, but he's being paid handsomely for it.
The writing's been on the wall for some time that Mr. Brien would not become a fixture at the agency, as this publication and others have noted. But it was yesterday that he was finally notified of his termination and that Weber Shandwick CEO and longtime Interpublic exec Harris Diamond would take his place. That move triggered, per SEC documents, a "qualifying termination" clause in his employment contract. And so in losing a job, Mr. Brien, who is 50, gained a sizable exit package that affords him the ability to take plenty of time figuring out his next move.
Per his standing as a "named officer" at Interpublic, Mr. Brien was eligible for "salary continuation" and other related severance pay. According to a proxy statement filed with the SEC this past April, a qualifying termination for Mr. Brien allows him salary continuation for 18 months -- which totals $1.8 million. It is provided to him effective yesterday. In addition, he is entitled to a large pension and deferred compensation package of $1.5 million and $900,000, respectively. Further, he gets benefits for that time, which is a subsidy for medical, dental and vision coverage worth about $40,000.
So in all, Mr. Brien is walking away with a big chunk of change: $4.2 million, plus benefits.
It's worth noting that his $4.2 million exit package is on top of Mr. Brien sizable earnings in 2011, when his total compensation of $4.8 million made him the company's second-highest-paid executive, behind Chairman-CEO Michael Roth ($13.0 million).
And while he of recent lost the support of Interpublic management, up until this spring, he was being given high marks for performance as it related to incentive compensation. That was tied to organic growth, operating margin and what Interpublic calls "high priority objectives" or goals that contribute to company's short- and long-term performance.
Mr. Brien, per the proxy statement, was given high marks by top brass for his efforts to "effect a transition" at McCann, with key accomplishments including: "significant progress in assessing top talent across the organization and resulting moves to upgrade capabilities and geographic leadership as appropriate" and the establishment of "a structure to bring a broad range of talent and resources to clients, including cross-functional, global teams, and tapped senior regional leadership to lead this effort." He was also commended for a "high degree of focus on quality of the agency's creative product" and "active involvement" in diversity and inclusion activities.