HIGHTOWER: Soft Landing for Mattel's Ex-CEO

Millions of American employees will be fired by corporations this year, but few will feel as good about it as Jill Barad.

Not that she wanted to get her pink slip, but surely she saw it coming, since she was the top employee of Mattel Inc., the giant toy marketer that lost millions of dollars during her tenure as CEO. Now, if you had cost your company millions of dollars, what would you get? A swift kick in the ass right out the door, that's what! But, technically, Ms. Barad didn't even get fired -- she was allowed to resign. And unlike the thousands of Mattel employees she had booted while she was in charge there, her pink slip came with a sweetheart "separation agreement" attached to it.

How sweet? Start with the lump sum payment of more than $26 million she received. The New York Times says this includes five times her annual salary plus bonuses, the forgiveness of a $4 million dollar loan she got from the company in 1997, the forgiveness of another $3 million loan Mattel gave her to buy a home in 1994, plus more than $3 million she will owe in taxes because of the forgiveness of the home loan.

It gets sweeter. The 46-year old ex-CEO will be paid a pension of $708, 989 a year for the rest of her life. The company also will pay for: her $5 million life insurance policy; her health insurance; outplacement services to help ease her transition to the post-Mattel period of her life; financial consultants to handle all the money she's being handed; and what is described only as "certain club memberships." I wonder if Greedheads Anonymous is one of those clubs?

We're not through. She also gets to keep her security guards, some of her office equipment, her company car -- and she gets 6.4 million shares of Mattel stock, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... It might be lonely at the top ... but it's mighty lucrative when you get fired.

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