Interview: Life After Keating
Industrial: That Friday Feeling
Bad Boss: Begging to Work
Organising: Project Pilbara
Unions: Off the Rails
International: Brazil Turns Left
Environment: Brown Wash
History Special: Learning from the Past
Corporate: Will the Bullying Backfire?
Technology: Danger Lurks For The Passive
History: In Labourï¿½s Image
Politics: Without Power Or Glory
History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Culture: Blood Stains the Wattle
Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
Poetry: The Executive Pay Cut
Review: Time Out
Month In Review
The Locker Room
Why The User Should Pay
More Bali Feed Back
Clean Election Laws Now!
And Now, Some Fan Mail!
Still Crazy After All These Years
When Psychos Go To Work
Psychologists probing the wave of corporate crime in America have noticed a trend that may not surprise many workers: the boss could well be a psychopath.
Researchers say psychopaths and chief executives tend to share many personality traits - in particular an ability to appear plausible and attract followers while at the same time hiding low self-esteem. Robert Hare, of the University of British Columbia, one of the leading experts on psychopathic behaviour, thinks boardrooms are full of people who have what he calls "charisma without conscience". "If I couldn't study psychopaths in prison, I would go down to the stock exchange," he says. Along with Paul Babiak, he is working on a book with the tentative title, Snakes in suits: When psychos go to work. Dr Babiak and Dr Hare say some of the traits most admired by corporations suit the profile of the average psychopath. "They tend to have a facade of charm that is very effective in ingratiating themselves with people in power and which hides their anti-social tendencies," says Dr Babiak. Psychopaths tend to be arrogant, short-tempered, manipulative, deceitful, lacking in empathy and remorse, and with a need for self-aggrandisement while apparently being "rational"(Source: London Telegraph)
Harvey Norman Boss Takes Pay Cut
Well, his peers probably label him as mad, but retail king Gerry Harvey took a $100,000 pay cut last financial year, preferring to give money to charity. The Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd chairman cut his pay to just $149,904 in 2001/02 compared with $250,400 the previous year, according to the company's annual report. The 62-year-old quipped the reason was because he's "friggin hopeless". "I take about a quarter, to a fifth, to an eighth of what everyone else in my position in the country pays themselves," he said. "Surely I'm the shining light here of what should happen. "I'm pretty unique I think." (Source: AAP).
Millions Rain on Coles's Top Dogs
Over at Coles, as the board and CEO threaten to delve into all out warfare, at least they can reach agreement on their own remuneration. Coles Myer paid its top seven executives just over $13 million in salary and other benefits last year and doled out a further $5.5 million when it cut ties with former chief executive Dennis Eck. As well, three new executives who were headhunted from North American retailers and now run the Kmart, Target and Myer Grace Bros businesses, were granted options valued at more than $8.4 million. One of the Americans, Dawn Robertson, who started at Myer Grace Bros in May, received $1.46 million for less than two months work. (Source: SMH)
ANZ Bucks Trend on Executive Options
ANZ Bank will continue issuing options to its executives, in contrast to the stampede of companies abandoning them as a form of remuneration. ANZ will, however, amend its options policy to ensure rewards are distributed only if the bank outperforms peer bank stocks, not a general market rally. "The stock price has to go up and we have to outperform for these to have value," chief executive John McFarlane says. The bank also disclosed the cost to shareholders from its options and share grant schemes to executives and employees at $44 million, including $7 million for its top executives. However, it stopped short of expensing the cost against its record $2.322 billion annual net profit because of the lack of accounting guidance. (Source: SMH)
DVT Options Need Proxy Support
Meanwhile, DVT, previously known as Davnet, encountered a few more bumps on the road to fiscal recovery, with shareholders taking exception to executive options packages resulting from its merger with Utility Services Corporation (USC). DVT, an online storage provider, held the meeting to pass the final resolutions concerning its $65 million merger with USC, a solutions provider with interests in the utilities and e-business area. The new company will be called UXC.
Gratitude for the directors' role in pulling DVT from the brink of liquidation, and turning it into what is forecast to be a profitable merged entity with $150 million in annual revenues, did not extend to agreement on performance hurdles on the option plan for UXC's directors. Giles Edwards, from the Australian Shareholders Association, applauded the directors for "pulling some chestnuts out of the fire instead of liquidating" but said the options plans did not pass the test for transparency and clarity. The majority of shareholders at the meeting voted against the resolution, but it was passed on proxy votes. (Source: SMH)
Execs Lose $2.7b in Value of Options
Some justice though in revelations that shaky sharemarket conditions have slashed about $2.7 billion from the value of executive option packages over the past 15 months, according to a newspaper survey. The survey, by the Australian Financial Review, found half of the 705 million options issued by 24 of the nation's biggest companies were under water by $1.1 billion in mid-September. The AFR said the survey underlined the uncertain future for options packages. Options packages had a total exercise cost of $7 billion, which was the price executives would pay to convert them into full paid shares with the current value of $7.6 billion, the report said. These prices were a far cry from June 2001, when the market value of the same options was $9.4 billion, it said.
APRA Doubles Probes
Evidence that the craziness is spreading? The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority stepped up its enforcement in 2001-02, investigating twice as many financial institutions as it had in the previous financial year. The number of financial institutions - including banks, general insurers and super funds - investigated for fraud, tax avoidance or as a result of general business failure rose from 96 in 2000-01 to 199 in 2001-02, APRA's annual report showed. APRA's improved vigilance follows sharp criticism of its performance in the previous year when it failed to prevent the collapse of HIH Insurance, the biggest crash in Australia's corporate history. It was also criticised for failing to detect the corporate misbehaviour that saw thousands of retirees lose their retirement nest eggs with the demise of Commercial Nominees Australia Limited. (Source: SMH)
Argentina Considers Taking Our Nuclear Waste
But if we think we're crazy, look across the Pacific to Argentina, which has moved a step closer to accepting spent nuclear fuel from the new Sydney research reactor, after a political committee voted in favour of the plan. It has taken almost a year, but overnight the foreign affairs committee of the Argentine Congress voted in favour of accepting Australian spent nuclear fuel. By a margin of two to one, the committee approved the nuclear treaty with Australia that has been stalled since last November. The decision paves the way for a final vote in the coming weeks by the 256-member Chamber of Deputies. If passed, the treaty will allow the Australian Government to ask Argentina to oversee treatment of spent fuel from the new reactor, before waste is returned to Australia for long-term storage. (Source: ABC)
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