Mr. Meyer owns or has options for 16% of Grey common stock and 59% of Class B shares, which have special rights giving him voting control of the company. Based on Grey's late June 25 share price near $900 in after-market trading, the stock is worth $300 million-and even more if there is a bidding war.
Mr. Meyer also stands to get a huge exit package if he leaves Grey after a sale. He would have received "special severance" of $33 million if he'd left the company last December after a change in control, according to an SEC filing.
That's a lot of loot, and it could go down as the biggest single payday for an agency boss. But it's hardly the first mega jackpot on Madison Avenue. Donny Deutsch, for example, pocketed $213 million on the sale of his agency to Interpublic Group of Cos. in 2000. Four Bcom3 Group executives split $300 million by selling to Publicis Groupe in 2002. Bob Jacoby collected $110 million-$185 million, adjusted for inflation-on the sale of Ted Bates Worldwide to Saatchi & Saatchi in 1986.
Mr. Meyer gets to decide when and how he cashes in. With his stock plus trusts and stock plans he oversees, he had control of 70% of voting shares at year end. As a recent filing noted: "Mr. Meyer can elect all of the members of our board of directors. He can also exercise significant influence over our business and affairs. This includes any determination with respect to mergers or other business combinations [or] the acquisition or disposition of our assets." It's his deal.