The hired help…

April 20, 2004

Not to begrudge a busy CEO a little domestic help, say a nanny, a housekeeper, maybe even a live-in gardener or groundsman. But should that really be on the company’s (read: shareholders) dime? Apparently so at discount airline ATA Holdings (ATAH) . In its recent proxy, the company disclosed that back in 1996, the company began paying the salaries and benefits for “certain domestic employees” provided to Chairman and CEO J. George Mikelsons. The proxy notes that in the past, the company would send a bill each quarter to Mikelsons, but that “prior to 2003, the timing of payments from Mr. Mikelsons to the company had been inconsistent.” According to the proxy, Mikelsons began reimbursing the company for these services last year. But a bit deeper into the proxy, it notes that as of Dec. 31, 2003, the CEO still owed the company $668,029 for the domestic employees as well as for the crew of a 125-ft yacht that is owned by Mikelsons. From the proxy, it’s hard to figure out whether the money Mikelsons owes ATA is for several years, say from 1996 when ATA agreed to pick up the cost of the hired help until 2003, when Mikelsons began reimbursing the company. What is clear is that Mikelsons is on the hook for nearly as much as he made last year: $687,916.

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