HIGHTOWER: CEO Retirements

For most of us, when we retire, we're lucky if we get a little pension, a gold watch and a handshake. Indeed, most corporations have cut-out pensions for employees.Well .... except for that one employee at the very tippy-top of the company's job pyramid: The head jeffe, the chief exec, the Big Cheese! If parting is such sweet sorrow, check how sweet it is for those who are cutting everyone else's retirement.John Amerman is a splendid example. He stepped-down last year as chief of Mattel Inc., the toy maker. His last year was a poor one -- so poor that John did not achieve enough performance targets to qualify for an "incentive award." No sweat, though -- Mattel's board covered the boss' bad job by giving him a "special achievement bonus."Would you get a bonus for not performing up-to-snuff? No. But, then, you're not the boss. John's bonus was $370,000. Also, he was named a senior advisor to his successor -- a make-work, do-nothing job that will pay him $1.1 million a year. Also, while poor John didn't get a gold watch, he did get $18-million worth of stock options. So his total payout will top $20 million, not counting his pension!Then there's Joel Alvord of Fleet Bank. After a merger, Joel was punted . . . but cry no tears, for he was handed a severence package of $15 million. Included was a $1.5 million bonus for Alvord's [quote] "longtime valuable service to Fleet." How long? He had been there a year.Especially touching is the case of Michael Pickett. He was CEO of the computer outfit, Merisel, but he was booted by the firm last year. He landed softly though -- as part of his severence, he gets to keep the Porsche the company provided for him . . . and the popcorn popper that was in his office.Retirement is sweet . . . if you're up in the executive suite.Source:"Where parting is such a sweet deal" by Jennifer Reingold. Business Week: March 31, 1997

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