Free

A Sweet Departure From FTI Consulting, Inc__».

Last Friday, FTI Consulting, Inc. (FCN) filed an 8-K to disclose that Executive Vice President/CFO Jorge Celaya had resigned the day before, although —he will remain an employee through the close of business on March 30, 2010. David G. Bannister, FTI’s Chief Administrative Officer, will be taking over as CFO.

While we aren—t told exactly why Celaya resigned so quickly and with such little notice, the company offers two vague explanations. In the 8-K, it says Celaya —has voluntarily resigned to pursue other opportunities. In the accompanying press release, it says Celaya is leaving —to pursue a new business venture. We’ve certainly heard those two lines before, even if they didn’t trot out the oft-used “personal reasons”.

Besides the abrupt departure, though, Celaya is leaving with a more generous departure package than he would have received if the company had simply terminated his employment.

Between March 31 and May 31, 2010, Celaya will work as an —independent contractor consultant who earns $4,500 per day. While it’s not clear how many days he’ll be able to bill out at this rate, the Separation Agreement does say that during this transition period, —the Company may require you to render transition consulting services from time to time, subject to reasonable advance notice and your reasonable availability.

The really big bucks, though, come from what the company calls —severance and certain other benefits.

In April, 2009, the company filed a proxy which stated: —Pursuant to the offer letter extended by the Company and accepted by Mr. Celaya, Mr. Celaya’s employment with us is —at-will.— We found another section that said (again, this was less than a year ago) that if the company terminated Celaya without cause or in the context of a change in control, he would be paid $550,000.

But under the terms of the Separation Agreement, Celaya will walk away with more than twice that amount. It states:

—Under the terms of this agreement, Mr. Celaya will be paid severance in an amount equal to his current base salary plus $700,000, his equity grants will vest on an accelerated basis, and he will also receive standard separation benefits on the same basis as such benefits would be payable to other senior executives.

We know from last year’s proxy that the company’s Comp Committee raised Celaya’s base salary to $600,000 on March 1, 2009; thus, he—ll get a lump sum check for $1.3 million, minus deductions, to be paid —promptly after the effective date of your separation from service with the Company.

When Celaya joined FTI Consulting in July, 2007, the company gave him 10,000 shares of restricted stock. At the time, those shares were to vest over three years, meaning they would fully vest on July 9, 2010. With the accelerated vesting, though, Celaya fully owns that last third of the shares now.

And finally, Celaya also gets to drive the car that the company leased for him through July, 2010. The company promised Celaya that it will —cover all maintenance expense, but not fuel costs, during the Transition Services Period through the lease expiration. In the event applicable FTI insurance arrangements do not permit the continued use of a leased car after March 30, 2010, suitable and mutually acceptable alternative arrangements will be made.

Whatever prompted the sudden departure, Celaya is getting a sweeter send-off than most departing employees, many of whom probably feel lucky if they leave with a nice cake and a few greeting cards.

Image source:The School House via Flickr