Analyst Greenfield blasts Cablevision and its CEO Jim Dolan
A top media analyst thinks Cablevision Systems Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jim Dolan has some explaining to do.
BTIG's Rich Greenfield, one of the most prominent analysts covering the media and telecommunications industry, blasted the cable operator's cloud of secrecy over the reasons behind departure of its chief operating officer Tom Rutledge, who Monday announced he was taking the president and chief executive position at Charter Communications.
In a Tuesday report, Greenfield wrote, "we believe something really bad transpired between Jim Dolan and Tom Rutledge in recent weeks."The analyst scrutinized Securities and Exchange Commission filings regarding Rutledge's deal and thinks somehow his contract -- which still had two years on it -- was breached, which cleared the way for him to jump ship to Charter Communications, a St. Louis-based cable company with over 4 million subscribers in 25 states.
"We want to know what happened and whether Rutledge gave the company written notice last month related to a breach of his contract and whether the company knowingly failed to correct the breach, providing Rutledge “Good Reason” termination," Greenfield said.
Rutledge, 58, is one of the most well-regarded executives working in the cable industry. He's also very well compensated. Not only did Cablevision provide him with a helicopter shuttle to get to work, his 2010 pay package was worth almost $30 million.
The exit of Rutledge coupled with the November departure of John Bickham, another senior executive at Cablevision has Greenfield worried that Dolan may assume a more hands-on role. Dolan, a colorful executive who fronts a blues band on the side is also chairman of Madison Square Garden Co. and a director of AMC Networks, the cable programming company that Cablevision spunoff earlier this year. He has not always been held in high regard by Wall Street.
"We would not be comforted by Dolan taking a meaningfully larger operational role at Cablevision," Greenfield said, adding that Cablevision has "completely shielded our access to him for years."
Cablevision, which has more than three million subscribers, most in the New York City region, has not commented on any of the specifics regarding the recent departures at the company. A spokesman did not immediately respond for comment on Greenfield's report.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Jim Dolan. Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images.