Bankrupt Hollywood studio MGM is paying its co-CEO Stephen Cooper and his team $375,000 a month on top of a $1.3 million retainer paid to his firm, Zolfo Cooper, the New York Post reported Thursday.
The 64-year-old executive, who was the chief restructuring officer for Enron and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and currently holds the same title for American Home Mortgage, could also gain a $4 million "success fee" once MGM emerges from Chapter 11, court filings reveal.
Officially vice chairman at MGM and a member of the office of CEO, Cooper was drafted in August 2009 by the private equity firms leading MGM after it ran into trouble with its finances.
His eye-popping deal -- which has been amended four times, most recently in September when his firm's retainer jumped to $1.3 million from $375,000 -- surprised some Hollywood executives.
While some see the pay package as rich, it is less than the $600,000-a-month fee Cooper reportedly charged Krispy Kreme in 2005.
Also, Cooper's firm earned $107 million for its Enron work.
Some say it is hard to discern Cooper's precise contribution during his period of employment with MGM.
A plan to bring Lionsgate activist investor Carl Icahn and MGM together was said to have been the handiwork of former CEO Harry Sloan -- while a steering committee of the firm's creditors, led by Anchorage Advisors and Highland Capital Management, played the biggest role in drafting Spyglass Entertainment chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum to run a new MGM.
Cooper, however, won high praise from Jay Goffman, another of MGM's restructuring experts, who told a judge last week about the role Cooper had played at other firms, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.
A rep for Cooper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Compensation expert, Thomas Lys, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, said it was hard to assess whether Cooper's fee was justified, but added, "The risk is not that huge to him. When a company is in bankruptcy there's more upside to a person's reputation than downside."