Columnist for TheStreet.com and shareholder activist Eric Jackson has a great story up about the Mark Hurd situation at Hewlett-Packard ($HPQ). Jackson details the warning signs that a) H-P’s board fell asleep at the switch and b) Mark Hurd and the other top execs were being pigs in plain sight, never mind expense checks to a CEO love interest.
HP’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings of the past few years have — in plain sight of investors and journalists — detailed this excess:
- Mark Hurd’s total compensation for 2008 (when the global economic crisis reached its nadir) was $43 million, making him the fourth highest-paid CEO that year, even though H-P’s shares lost 29% that year.
- In 2008, H-P shareholders paid $7,472 for travel expenses for Mark Hurd’s family to accompany him on business meetings. They paid $256,000 for Mark Hurd’s personal security detail that year. And all executives were able to use $18,000 each worth of financial advice that year on the shareholders’ dime.
- Where it gets really interesting is that shareholders paid $136,000 for Mark Hurd’s personal use of the H-P private plane fleet in 2008. Furthermore, H-P “grosses up” this taxable benefit, so that Hurd — the guy who made $43 million in 2008 alone — doesn’t have to pay any taxes for that private aircraft use. The filings also show that Hurd can take his spouse on the H-P aircraft whenever it is “requested by H-P” and that she gets “grossed up” for that too.
There are many more examples over at TSC, and a warning to current shareholders about the fact that H-P’s recent acquisitions of Palm and 3Com could turn into charges rather than successful integrations with Hurd out of the C-suite.