No potty mouths at Morgans…

April 22, 2008

Some say any publicity is good publicity, but the folks at Morgans Hotel (MHGC) may disagree. Since former CEO Edward Scheetz was associated with a young woman’s unfortunate death last year, Morgans has been in the press’s sights. When Morgans was footnoted here in December for agreeing to spend $30K per month on NYC digs for then-interim CEO Fred Kleisner, the New York Post picked up the story. This past Sunday, the NY Times noted the failure of former director Lance Armstrong to earn the yellow jersey for board meeting attendance, as he didn’t show up even once.

At least Morgans is doing what it can to prevent its own executives from sullying its reputation. The firm has taken the idea of a “non-disparagement” clause a bit further than usual. (This previous post notes the popularity of these “speak no evil” clauses and gives a few examples.)

Take the amended and restated employment contract filed on Thursday for Marc Gordon, who has the unwieldy title of EVP-Capital Markets/Chief Investment Officer. In addition to the expected prohibitions against libeling, slandering or denigrating Morgans after he leaves its employ, Gordon isn’t permitted to “ridicule” the company, nor can its board or officers go around ridiculing him. (The same language appeared in Gordon’s original 2006 agreement.)

So if Gordon quits, he’d better not blast Morgans in a Mad Magazine parody, SNL skit or YouTube video. And he shouldn’t even think about blogging. However, the gag order only lasts a year – rather a short period in the world of grudge-holding – after which I guess both parties can ridicule away.

But there’s no reason for Gordon to taunt the hand that feeds him, not with a $700K salary and a contract that effectively guarantees him at least a 100% bonus plus $1.9M in annual equity awards for the next three years. Oh, and five weeks vacation, too.

A word from Michelle: On a totally unrelated note, Chris Cox will be addressing the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m. today. The folks at the SEC have sent over Cox’s prepared comments in advance (which I’m required to embargo until then) and this looks to be pretty interesting. The link will take you to the live stream.

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