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Rupert Murdoch took a pay cut… Or did he?

Rupert Murdoch Delivers Keynote At The National Summit On Education ReformRupert Murdoch Delivers Keynote At The National Summit On Education Reform
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch pauses as he delivers a keynote address at the National Summit on Education Reform on October 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

At face value, you might think that media mogul Rupert Murdoch has taken a pay cut since News Corp was split in two. But take a closer look, and it becomes all too clear that Murdoch has received a raise since the decoupling. Let’s examine the numbers.

Following the break-up of News Corp (NWSA) into 21st Century Fox (FOX) and the new News Corp in 2013, Murdoch’s salary was reduced by $1 million from $8.1 million to $7.1 million. His annual cash bonus also went down from $12.5 million to $10.2 million. His stock awards, meanwhile, increased by around $1.2 million.

While the 83-year old’s pension grew by $5.4 million compared to an increase of $2.8 million in 2013, these figures have been excluded from his total pay figure because most boards claim they have no control over the amount of the increase year-on-year. So, Murdoch’s overall total compensation went from $26 million in 2013 to $23.9 million in 2014, a decrease of around 8%.

Such a decrease might be expected after the break-up of the Murdoch empire into two separate companies—21st Century Fox, which holds all the broadcast entities: Fox Broadcasting, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Fox Sports, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, the National Geographic Channels, and BSkyB, among others; and News Corp, which holds all the print and related media: Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, HarperCollins, The New York Post, as well as Australian and British newspapers such as The Australian, The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, and The Sun.

21st Century Fox has a market capitalization of around $73.45 billion. News Corp has a market cap of around $9.44 billion. So News Corp represents just over 10% of the value of the two companies, thus the salary decrease seems appropriate given Murdoch’s slightly decreased responsibilities.

Except Murdoch is not just CEO of 21st Century Fox. He has other gigs. Yes, the empire was split in two and a new News Corp CEO—Robert Thomson, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, who is paid a lot less than Murdoch was as CEO—was installed. But that does not mean that Murdoch relinquished control, since he remains at News Corp as executive chairman. And what was his salary as executive chairman? $1 million. But, in addition to that, he received a cash bonus of $2.7 million and $5 million in stock awards.

Taking both jobs into consideration, Murdoch’s pay in 2014 comes to $32.6 million, an increase of more than 25% compared to the previous year.

And in 2014, Murdoch vested in $19.4 million of restricted stock in the two companies from prior year awards, compared to only $4.3 million from the combined companies in 2013. Yet another increase.

The News Corp demerger was supposed to unlock value for shareholders, since the print companies’ losses were affecting overall profits at the company. But the changes seem to have also unlocked a good deal of cash for Rupert Murdoch.