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A generous farewell from Beckman Coulter…

On September 8, biomedical testing company Beckman Coulter, Inc. (BEC) filed an 8-K to disclose the resignation of Scott Garrett, who wore numerous hats – Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, President, and Director. Garrett actually resigned two days earlier, with his resignation effective that day, which always makes us wonder when a top executive checks out so quickly. Simultaneously, Beckman Coulter appointed its lead independent director, Glenn Schafer, as the non-executive Chairman of the Board, and its SVP of Human Resources, J. Robert Hurley, as interim President and CEO.

When the resignation was announced, a company spokesperson told Reuters, “The leadership changes were not related to any one event or issue. The company believes that the changes are in the company’s best interest at this time.”

Garrett may have resigned September 6, but he—ll actually be putting around — at least on the payroll — for awhile. He has agreed to stay on as the —full-time, non-executive advisor to the Chairman of the Board until January 15, 2011 and can work from home or any other location he chooses. But his —Transition, Separation Agreement and General Release of All Claims (an attachment to the 8-K) specifies that he —will only be provided use of Beckman Coulter’s offices and administrative support to the extent reasonably necessary for purposes of Executive’s duties hereunder or as may be otherwise made available by Beckman Coulter. The agreement also specifies that Garrett won’t have access to the company’s email system or confidential information, and that his duties include:

——those services reasonably requested by Beckman Coulter’s Non-Executive Chairman of the Board on an as-needed basis during normal business hours and [he] shall report solely to the Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.

In return, the company will continue to pay Garrett at his current salary of $960,480 (according to the latest proxy), and he also gets to participate in the 2010 Management Incentive Plan and the company health and retirement plans. Garrett will also benefit from continued vesting of his equity awards.

However, the biggest chunk of money is being paid in exchange for Garrett signing a release and promise not to sue or disparage the company. Per its terms, Beckman Coulter will pay Garrett $1.92 million, less taxes and withholding, to be paid in 52 bi-weekly checks of $36,923.08.

The stock has taken a hit this year, with its share price down nearly 36 percent from its trading price a year ago. Of course, it’s never fair to lay either the credit or the blame for a company’s performance at the feet of a single executive, and we’re not suggesting that Garrett is responsible for the lower stock price. But nevertheless, investors are no doubt hoping that Garrett’s successors have a plan to reverse that trend.

Image source: Beckman Coulter

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