Countrywide’s Mozilo blames “left wing business press”…

March 6, 2008

images4.jpegAfter postponing twice, it looks like tomorrow is the day that Countrywide’s (CFC) Angelo Mozilo, as well as Stan O’Neal, and Chuck Prince, formerly of Merrill Lynch (MER) and Citigroup (C) will be heading to Capitol Hill to appear before the House Oversight Committee to talk about compensation and the subprime mess. The formal name of the hearing is “Executive Compensation II: CEO Pay and the Mortgage Crisis’_ and it starts at 10 a.m. With any luck, it will be live streamed, since I can’t make it down to DC tomorrow.

Will it be as interesting as when the the top executives of various tobacco companies appeared before Congress (gasp!) 10 years ago? Probably not. But judging by the list of people set to testify, it should be a pretty good show.

In advance of tomorrow’s hearing, Chairman Henry Waxman has released a 23-page report, which you can download here. Among the findings? That the three former CEOs set to testify raked in $460 million in compensation during the five year period ended December 2006 — a time when all three companies were doing well. But starting in 2007, “any alignment between the compensation of the CEOs and their shareholders’ interests appears to breakdown.”

Of particular interest is some of the emails that the Committee received as part of its investigation including this one between Mozillo and Towers Perrin consultant John England, who the report says Mozilo regarded as “his personal representative even though he was being paid by Countrywide.” Here’s a snippet:

My primary unhappiness with what the Board has put forth is that it lowers your maximum opportunity significantly. That’s been accomplished by lowering the target bonus and reducing the maximum bonus.”

Mozillo’s response, which is longer, is even better. He blames the problems on the “left-wing business press and the envious leaders of unions and other so-called “CEO Comp Watchers.” We assume he must be talking about the WSJ. And CNBC. And The Corporate Library. Not to mention footnoted!

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