Study these negotiating skills…

July 25, 2005

Late Friday, Delta Air Lines (DAL) filed this exhibit, the employment contract with its new CFO, Ed Bastian, which when paired with this filing by Acuity (AYI) at the end of April, makes for some interesting reading.

That’s because in a little over two months, Bastian proved to be a deft negotiator when it came to his salary. Though it’s not clear what Bastian was making at Delta when he left the company back in the spring because he wasn’t high enough on the proxy totem pole. But based solely on those who were, it’s likely that he doubled his salary by taking the six-week stint at Acuity.

According to his Acuity contract, Bastian was making $375K a year and received a $250K signing bonus when he started the job on June 1. At Delta, which he rejoined last Wednesday, his salary climbed to $450K and he got a $350K signing bonus, which Delta noted was to make up for the Acuity signing bonus that he would have to repay as well as Acuity options that he was set to receive.

What would have happened if Bastian had never taken the job at Acuity in the first place? He probably wouldn’t have received the signing bonus and it’s unlikely his salary would have climbed so sharply, since Delta’s outgoing CFO, Michael Palumbo, also wasn’t amongst Delta’s top five execs and the highest paid executive at Delta made $420K in 2004. Delta investors can only hope that Bastian is as skilled at negotiating on behalf of Delta as it tries to avoid bankruptcy as he has proven in negotiating for himself.

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