In another sign that top Gannett executives may think the company's stock rise has hit a wall, U.K. newspaper division CEO Paul Davidson has cashed in 16,250 stock options, netting him nearly $200,000, a just-filed regulatory document shows.
Davidson (left) sold the shares yesterday for $15.89 each after buying them from the company at the $3.75 "strike" price, one guaranteed under terms of a mammoth round of stock options awarded to him and 10 other executives a year ago with their 2008 pay.
He received 65,000 options in that round. The 16,250 he sold yesterday were the maximum he could sell under the terms set by the company, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The options become his property -- known as vesting -- in four equal annual installments starting Feb. 25 -- last Thursday.
Davidson becomes at least the third executive to recently cash in the maximum number of stock options allowed from last year. Yesterday, human resources chief Roxanne Horning sold 8,500 shares, netting her a $104,000 profit, this SEC document shows. Earlier, retiring labor relations chief Wendell Van Lare made a substantially similar trade of 8,500 shares, for a nearly $100,000 gain, company documents show.
GCI closed today at $16.07 a share, up 1%.
At Newsquest, Davidson has been particularly successful at slashing jobs across the division's 17 dailies and hundreds of other titles. Last year, Newsquest's employment plunged 23%, to 5,100 workers -- the highest such rate across Gannett during a period of mass layoffs, unpaid furloughs and wage freezes. Overall, Gannett's company-wide employment fell 16% from 2008.
Davidson has already been handsomely rewarded for his 2009 work. Last week, the board of directors awarded him another 90,000 options -- 38% more than he got for 2008, documents show.