In search of greener grass?

July 19, 2007

images5.jpegOver the past two days, two top executives have left Scott’s Miracle-Gro (SMG) immediately — no two week notice, no consulting contract and no explanation — not even the oft-abused personal reasons or more time with the family. The first 8-K was filed late Tuesday and announced the departure of general counsel and corporate secretary David Aronowitz. A day later, the company filed this 8-K announcing the departure of Christopher Nagel, who up until last September, had been the company’s CFO, but resigned as an executive vice president. Needless to say, the fact that he had been the former CFO was never mentioned in the release.

In both releases, the company said that the resignations were not “related to the Company’s performance nor concerns about its financial controls”. That may technically be the case, but something clearly is up. You just don’t have two senior executives leave with zero notice without something going on in the background. This story in today’s Columbus Dispatch notes that this is the third top executive to leave in less than a year. Last September, the company filed this 8-K announcing the departure of COO Robert Bernstock, which the Dispatch story says was due to serious differences with Chairman and CEO James Hagedorn. The same release announced that Nagel would be moving into the job that he wound up leaving yesterday and called him “an executive with the highest level of integrity and someone who is direct in expressing his point-of-view”.

Perhaps it has something to do with the string of comment letters last year, including this response that was released last November once the inquiries were closed. Or perhaps Nagel was a bit too direct. Of course, that doesn’t really explain Aronowitz’ departure. Could both men really be in search of greener grass at the same exact time? Like the neighbor with the perfect lawn who insists he does nothing but mow, that’s a bit hard to believe.

Sorry about missing a post on Friday — was flying to San Francisco and due to unusually long lines at JFK, I made my flight with 5 minutes to spare. Footnoted will be back on Monday.

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