Another unicorn sighting in the filings!

December 11, 2009

Maybe we can chalk this all up to a sudden surge in holiday spirit — you know, how it’s better to give than receive. How else to explain why three top executives at Constellation Energy Group (CEG) voluntarily agreed to give up their change in control payments? But there it was in this short, but admittedly sweet 8-K filed earlier this week: Chairman and CEO Mayo Shattuck, Vice Chairman Michael Wallace, and Executive Vice President Henry Barron Jr. each signed agreements terminating their change in control payments effective Dec. 9. Here’s the actual language from the letters each man signed:

I hereby irrevocably and unconditionally consent to the termination of my Second Amended and Restated Change in Control Severance Agreement with Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (the —Company), dated December 31, 2008. From and after the date hereof, such agreement is null and void and neither I nor the Company has any further rights or obligations thereunder.

This isn’t a token give-back. According to Constellation’s proxy from earlier this year, each of the three executives were entitled to three years of compensation and benefits. For Shattuck, the compensation alone would have been around $4 million.

As we footnoted last month when Black & Decker CEO Nolan D. Archibald turned down over $20 million in severance that he would have normally received post-merger, these sorts of things are about as rare as seeing unicorns in the filings!

Don’t believe me? Just this week, Dell (DELL) disclosed that Ross Perot Jr., who is on the list of Forbes Richest Americans, couldn’t pass up $3.9 million including $1.1 million in tax gross-up in severance that he was contractually owed once Dell completed its deal to buy Perot Systems. That was in addition to the nearly $1 billion he received for his Perot Systems stock.

Here at footnoted, we spend so much time talking about the unabashed greed that finds its way into the filings that it’s nice — especially on this first night of Hanukkah — to have something positive to celebrate. All we need is seven more and it will truly be a miracle!

UPDATE: The Baltimore Business Journal has some more details here on the details behind this decision. According to them, Shattuck was publicly shamed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley this past summer for his hefty severance.

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