HIGHTOWER: Hog Report

Time for Hightower's "Hog Report" [hogs snorting] . . . and today we've got a BIG ONE for you!He's Gerry Cameron, who's been the boss hog at U.S. Bancorp in Portland, Oregon. In June, though, Cameron helped engineer a takeover of this bank by a Minneapolis outfit called First Bank System Inc. As part of the deal, some 4,000 U.S. Bancorp employees are getting the axe, because the new owner wants to chop the payroll by some $255 million.While these 4,000 people (plus their families) are now facing some mighty lean times, Cameron did go out of his way to protect one of the bank's employees: Himself! Indeed, he's now one super-fat hog, thanks to the sweetheart deal that lets him keep his position as chairman of the new bank, along with the $1.6 million annual paycheck he's been getting, plus the millions in stock profits he will reap from the merger.But this is the least of it. On August 1st, the day the firings of the 4,000 workers are to begin, Cameron will get a special bonus payment of $12.4 million from the new owners. Now get this, Cameron will not even have to pay taxes on his windfall, since First Bank also agreed to cover the multimillion-dollar tax tab for him.But wait, there's even more in Cameron's gold-plated trough. He gets stock options on 100,000 shares of the Minneapolis-based bank, worth a good $8.6 million. The only thing they left out was a pension and a gold watch, but don't cry for Gerry -- another clause in his takeover deal guarantees that the bank will pay him a million bucks a year after his retirement!This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Gerry Cameron sold-out 4,000 fellow employees in the name of "economizing," then gorged himself on an estimated $50 million. He's a fat hog now . . . but remember: it's the fat hogs that are taken to slaughter.

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