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Wetzel Won’t Leave EarthLink Broke

President Joseph Wetzel will walk away with a tidy sum of cash when he departs EarthLink Inc. as its second highest-ranking executive at the end of the year.

Outgoing EarthLink President Joseph WetzelEarthLink spelled out the benefits he will receive in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The actual amount appears to partly depend on EarthLink’s performance this year since Wetzel’s 2012 bonus payment is a factor in the calculation.

Still, Wetzel’s previous compensation is a decent indicator that the 56-year-old president and chief operating officer certainly won’t go home broke.

Upon his leaving, Wetzel will be entitled to a severance payment that is equivalent to 150 percent of his base salary and annual target bonus payment for this year, less the amount of a separate non-compete payment, according to the regulatory filing. Wetzel’s employment agreement provides for a minimum annual base salary of nearly $491,000 per year plus a bonus opportunity of 80 percent of his eligible earnings that will be paid if certain criteria is met, according to a proxy statement filed in March that discusses Wetzel’s employment agreement.

The more recent filing also notes that Wetzel’s non-compete payment will be two-thirds of the sum of his base salary and annual target bonus for 2012. He also is entitled to “equity award accelerated vesting”. A non-compete agreement in Wetzel’s employment contract prohibits him from competing with EarthLink for 18 months following his departure.

Last year, Wetzel earned total compensation of $1.77 million, including a base salary of roughly $479,000, according to the proxy statement. His compensation also included stock awards of $756,000, bonuses of roughly $387,000 and other comp totaling around $148,000.

Wetzel was the second highest paid executive behind EarthLink CEO and Chairman Rolla Huff, who earned total compensation of $4.06 million, including a base salary of roughly $805,000. After Wetzel leaves, Huff will function as president of the company as well.

In its second-quarter earnings announcement Thursday, EarthLink announced that Wetzel was leaving the company. He has been with EarthLink since 2007, and as president and COO, he manages EarthLink’s day-to-day activities.

The reasons for his impending departure weren’t clear.


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