Interview: Still Flying
International: President Gas
Politics: Australia: A Rogue State?
Unions: Welfare Max
Bad Boss: Welcome to Telstra!
Health: Fat Albert: The Grim Reaper
Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
Poetry: A Man From the East And A Man From The West
Review: The Sum Of All Fears
The Locker Room
Week in review
The Legacy of 11/9
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
RIP Chainsaw Al
Chainsaw Al's Blades Blunted
Al Dunlap, the former chief executive of the now-bankrupt Sunbeam Corp, who once served as chief executive to Kerry Packer, has agreed to pay a $US500,000 00) fine and accept a ban on ever serving as an officer or director of a public company.
Dunlap, who earlier agreed to pay $US15 million to settle a shareholder suit, neither admitted nor denied allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he engineered a large accounting fraud that inflated the profits of Sunbeam after he was hired to turn the company around in 1996, when he was viewed as a superstar by Wall Street. Justice Department officials would not comment on whether Dunlap might still face criminal charges. Dunlap, who embraced the nickname "Chainsaw Al", became famous in the 1990s as he fired thousands of workers at Scott Paper in what he said was a necessary move to cut costs. Dunlap came to Australia in 1989, slashing staff and closing operations at Mr Packer's ANI and Consolidated Press. (Source: The New York Times)
Toomey's Golden Handshake
With thousands of displaced Ansett workers awaiting entitlements, it's emerged that their former boss, Gary Toomey, received $NZ4.2 million in a departure clause agreed by Air New Zealand in the weeks after the airline's collapse. Toomey, the face of the ill-fated "Absolutely" celebrity advertising campaign, won a performance bonus - along with fellow Air NZ directors - just before Ansett lurched into administration. His final payout figure had not previously been disclosed. Although he is not named in the report, Mr Toomey is likely to be the biggest recipient of a total $NZ28.8 million in payments issued to 60 senior staff who lost their jobs. Meanwhile,the ACTU has accused the federal Government of blocking $400 million in entitlements still owed to former Ansett employees almost a year after the airline's collapse. (Various Sources)
And Another 11th Hour Payout at HIH
A former director of HIH Insurance has defended a decision to award $1.6 million to the finance director on the day the company went into liquidation Justin Gardener told the HIH Royal commission that former finance director Dominic Fodera deserved the money, which the board approved minutes before voting to hand HIH to provisional liquidators. "This is a senior employee of the company who has certain entitlements," Mr Gardener said. HIH's board knew when they met on March 15 2001 that they were going to place the insurer in liquidation, Mr Gardener said, but first they voted on awarding the $1.6 million to Mr Fodera, who earned about $800,000 a year. (Source: SMH)
How Much Does A Meeting Cost?
Just how does a general meeting cost $2.6 million? This is the estimate provided by the NRMA to the NSW Supreme Court recently when the issue of holding a special general meeting was debated. While the postage costs $500,000, printing $400,000, distribution $300,000, and rent $30,000, there is $13,000 for catering (that's a lot for a half dozen urns, some tea bags, sachets and mixed, plain bickies - but perhaps it includes a gourmet lunch for the board), $50,000 for travel, $3000 for staff taxis (the venue is usually within walking distance, so this seems extravagant), $200,000 for IT consulting (!?), $124,000 for consultants generally, $425,000 for legal fees (huh?), $150,000 for public relations, $145,000 for advertising, $5000 for "events activities", $50,000 for customer research and $150,000 for a telephone call centre.This isn't a meeting. This is an industry. (Source: SMH's CBD Column)
News to Pay Options Despite $12bn Loss
News Corp plans to offer another 2.5 million options to its top five executives, on top of the $US31 million ($57 million) of remuneration already paid for the year in which the company racked up the largest loss in Australian corporate history: $11.96 billion Shareholders will be asked to approve the new option allotments over the company's non-voting preferred stock at News Corp's annual meeting in Adelaide next month. Chief operating officer Peter Chernin is to receive one million of the new options, exercisable at $8.02. That compares with Friday's closing price of the preferred stock at $7.66. The remaining 1.5 million options will be split between Rupert Murdoch's two sons, Lachlan and James, News' chief financial officer David DeVoe and legal counsel Arthur Siskind. The options are on top of the $US31 million the same five News executives received as their total compensation packages in the latest year. In addition, executive chairman Rupert Murdoch received $US9.21 million and former chief operating officer Chase Carey pocketed $10.78 million in 2001-02, including $US5 million on his departure.
All up, News Corp paid its top 13 executives $US77.11 million in the year the company recorded its biggest ever loss. (Source: SMH)
Confiscate the Bonuses of Failure
A Reserve Bank board member says Executive salaries are too high and managers of failed companies should have their bonuses clawed back. Dick Warburton - who sits on eight boards and chairs David Jones and Caltex - has backed calls for tighter corporate standards but said any changes should not be too prescriptive. He told the National Press Club that, like house prices, executive salaries had become bloated but strong competition to attract good managers meant it was almost impossible to keep them lower. Mr Warburton backed calls for legislation to let regulators recoup the sometimes massive bonuses and share packages paid to executives of failed companies, also suggesting they should be forced to stand aside while under investigation. (Source: The Age)
Rio Vows to Clean Up Jabiluka
Finally, mining giant Rio Tinto has vowed to clean up a contaminated part of its Jabiluka uranium mine and shelve plans to develop the area at Kakadu. The company's chairman, Sir Robert Wilson lifted hopes of the traditional owners, the Mirrar people, by announcing rehabilitation of a part of the mine containing contaminated water. The Mirrar people want discussions with the company and governments to begin immediately to remedy the damage. Meanwhile, new statistics show Australia's mining sector spends just one per cent of its total annual expenditure on environmental protection. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says $1.5 billion was spent on measures to protect the environment by mining and manufacturing industries during the 2000-2001 financial year. (Various Sources)
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