Name that car…

March 31, 2006

images.jpeg Here’s a little pop quiz for anyone who knows something about leasing a car: What kind of car costs over $50K a year to lease? A Hummer? A Bentley? Perhaps a Lamborghini? I ask this because in a footnote to the summary compensation table that Visteon (VC) filed yesterday, it disclosed that it spent over $50K to lease a car for one of it’s executive vice presidents, Dr. Heinz Pfannschmidt, which believe it or not, is actually down from the $52K it spent on lease payments in 2004. Since Visteon is in the automobile business — it used to be part of Ford Motors (F) — one would think they could get some sort of discount on a suitable car for Dr. Pfannschmidt.

Of course, that wasn’t the only interesting thing buried in the footnotes of Visteon’s proxy. There were also all sorts of bonus payments, including a $3 million for COO Donald Stebbins, which the proxy noted was "in part based on continued employment". That’s in addition to the $807K "annual incentive bonus" and $243K "annual retention bonus" that Stebbins received. Indeed, how many different ways can Visteon say the word bonus? CEO Michael Johnston also got nearly $500K in an "annual retention bonus".

With this kind of generosity, one would expect Visteon shareholders, and perhaps even employees to share in the wealth. But a quick look at Visteon’s chart is pretty depressing. So, too are the headlines. Wouldn’t you think — at least hope — there would be some correlation between the two?

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