Golfing the days away…

November 8, 2007

images-31.jpegIn 1992, the Clinton/Gore campaign kept yakking about some new thing they called the “information superhighway” (though Bill and Al pronounced it superHAHway). I had no idea what they were talking about. Fifteen years later, the Internet is everywhere and all sorts of formerly private information can be found and put to innovative uses.

As many people know, the Wall Street Journal – relying in part on public Internet sites – recently reported that while Bear Stearns hedge funds were crashing last summer, CEO James Cayne played in a 10-day bridge tournament (with cellphone and email turned off) and regularly observed the holiday known as Golfing Friday. Also, using this golf-related database, blogger Jeff Matthews has observed that former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O’Neal hit the links quite frequently in August and September (mostly on weekends, but given the magnitude of Merrill’s crisis, I’m not sure that helps much).

Golf, of course, looms large for many executives. In this Amended and Restated Retirement Agreement (attached to a 10-Q filed Monday), Circor International (CIR) promised to bequeath to Chairman/CEO David Bloss, Sr., upon his retirement next March (previously announced here), its membership in a tony joint called the International Golf Club.

The agreement also says Bloss will serve as non-employee Chairman from March 1, 2008 until the 2009 shareholder meeting. Besides the gift of golfing, he’ll get a modest stipend of $50,000 (plus his regular director’s fee) and vest in his remaining equity. The maximum number of hours he’ll have to spend performing his Chairman duties (not counting board meeting attendance), is 20 hours per month, the same amount of time non-executive Chairman John Tyson at Tyson Foods (footnoted here) is supposed to punch in. But Bloss’s duties, unlike Tyson’s, are substantial; one could easily see them taking more time, especially if there’s an acquisition or a crisis, and it’s not clear what would happen in that case.

Is the 5-hour work week becoming a standard for non-executive Chairmen? Certainly leaves enough time for golf.

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