That must be some contract!

March 10, 2005

An ordinary investor might think that a CEO who made $18.6 million last year (that’s just salary and bonus and doesn’t include a bunch of other compensation) might feel a little sheepish about having to hit up investors to also cover the expense of negotating his employment contract, particularly when the amount exceeds the salary of a first year associate at a top New York law firm. Unfortunately, that investor would be wrong. Cendant (CD) Chairman and CEO Henry Silverman, who has been described in the past as a “pay pig” by New York Times reporter Alex Berenson had no qualms in getting Cendant to reimburse $165K worth of legal expenses in 2004, according to the company’s recent proxy. That’s on top of the $203K in legal expenses he rang up in 2002, also for contract negotiations. Both figures also include tax gross-up payments for the legal bills, so it’s hard to figure out exactly how many hours Silverman’s legal eagles labored away negotiating his contract. Doing some quick back-of-the-envelope math of 100 hours times $500 an hour (which seems awfully excessive for an employment contract), it still only works out to $50K. While it’s true that many companies reimburse their executives for this expense, it’s very rare that these expense exceed $25K and it’s usually not an every-other-year event.

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