Gret-Gret--sorry, Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times business writer Gretchen Morgenson--has been one of the foremost critics of executive compensation. And in today's column you can practically smell the gloat-sweat. You just know somewhere in her office she's got a little sliver platter with an effigy of Bob Nardelli's head on it.
Of course, Gret-Gret is smart enough to let others do the actual crowing but it doesn't take much guess work to understand that these people are being quoted because they are saying what Gret-Gret wants to write:
“The departure of Nardelli is good news for shareholders,” said Frederick E. Rowe Jr., a money manager in Dallas and president of Investors for Director Accountability. “To borrow from Winston Churchill, this is the end of the beginning in the war to make directors accountable to the shareholder owners they represent.” Mr. Nardelli’s fall from the executive firmament was fairly stunning. In just six years, he went from being one of the most sought-after chief executives, forged in the management crucible that is General Electric, to a top target of investors outraged by his $245 million in total pay over the last five years. That amount was seen as completely at odds with the dismal performance of Home Depot stock on his watch. Yesterday, the shares closed at $41.07, almost 6 percent lower than they were the day Mr. Nardelli arrived at Home Depot in December 2000.
“C.E.O.’s now will understand that they’ve got to put their conscience and shareholder wealth well above their personal gain,” said Jeffrey M. Cunningham, chairman and chief executive of Directorship, an online information service for board members. “Boards create termination packages when no one even contemplates there is going to be a termination and they are extraordinarily rich. You are going to see all those plans rethought and rationalized for the new environment.”
A Warning Shot by Investors to Boards and Chiefs [New York Times]