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Windstream to Award Nearly $19 Million in Executive Bonuses Amid Bankruptcy

Tons of Cash

A bankruptcy judge has greenlighted multimillion-dollar bonuses for Windstream‘s top executives as the company continues working through chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This week, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved Windstream’s proposed 2020 executive incentive plan. David Avery, Windstream’s vice president of corporate affairs, tells Channel Partners that the plan is similar to the performance incentive program used by the company prior to filing for restructuring.

In addition, the court has to approve the incentive program since Windstream is in restructuring, he said. The bonuses aim to drive business performance.

Windstream filed for chapter 11 last February

Under the plan:

  • Tony Thomas, Windstream’s president and CEO, could receive as much as $9.5 million.
  • Robert Gunderman, chief financial officer and treasurer, could receive as much as $3.5 million.
  • Layne Levine, president of enterprise, could receive nearly $2.3 million.
  • Jeffery Small, president of Kinetic, could receive more than $2.1 million.
  • Kristi Moody, executive vice president-general counsel and corporate secretary, could receive more than $1.4 million.

According to the court filing, Windstream has faced “severe business pressures as a function of the highly competitive landscape for telecommunications providers generally, as well as the challenges inherent to operating any business in chapter 11.” Additional challenges result from media coverage of Windstream’s litigation with Uniti and its reorganization, as well as supplying critical communications and support services to end users such as hospitals, municipalities and schools, it said.

“Such end users, due to a lack of familiarity with the chapter 11 process, may continue to be cautious about engaging with [Windstream], despite the fact that [its] ability to operate has been unimpaired by these chapter 11 cases,” it said.

To date, the executives have met these challenges, and have directly engaged with vendors and services providers to “maintain stability and seamless performance” across Windstream’s businesses, according to the filing. The performance targets will require the executives to continue to “manage through” the chapter 11 filings, it said.

Windstream faces an April deadline to complete its reorganization plan and exit bankruptcy. Drain rejected its request for an extension to May 31 to file its plan.

A major holdup in the process is Windstream’s ongoing court battle with Uniti, the publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) consisting of network assets that Windstream divested in 2015. Windstream pays Uniti about $650 million annually to use its network, and wants to modify its agreement.

Windstream filed suit against Uniti in July over its annual payment. A trial is scheduled for March 2 in federal bankruptcy court.


2 comments

  1. Avatar H.T. January 31, 2020 @ 11:58 am

    So many things wrong with this picture.

    Executives set the company’s direction and are supposedly in charge of drive the vision successfully… yet, when they fail, the employees (those that were pointed in the direction the executives set) get to suffer, lose their jobs, benefits, livelihood, etc… while the executives get millions in bonuses (AND raises in this case).

    In fairness, not all corporations (or executives) treat employees like a burden or barrier to their bonus structure… Some, unfortunately, are. This is a sad example.

  2. Avatar Gary February 23, 2020 @ 12:22 pm

    This is a case of one of the worst fraudulent bankruptcy filings on the face of the earth.
    I have supplied judge drain with enough evidence not only to eject Windstream from bankruptcy but to have federal prosecutors file criminal charges against the executives.
    I now can say I have 25% of my bond notes consents and have put on notice the Trustees and the unsecured creditors team including Elliot corporation that I expect a motion to be filed unwinding a previous bond swap that granted select top creditors an opportunity to swap unsecured bonds for secured notes.
    The motion is for judge drain to cancel that swap and return all who participated back down to unsecured status.
    Them a motion for judge drain to look into the fraudulent bankruptcy filing and how Windstream managed to do money transactions right before the adverse ruling to the tune of 500 million dollars as to look insolvent to better assist them on entry in bankruptcy.
    This information I have supplied seems to have struck a nerve with some high players as I have been threatened and told to stop what I am doing.
    I am not going to stop so we will see if the threats are real.
    I am an unsecured creditor going to bat for the unsecured creditors who are being screwed by Windstream and hope the courts stop turning a blind eye to the undisputed and incriminating facts.

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