Five men suddenly found themselves faced with an all-out attack on their territory. Five men confronted by a hostile power. But these five men looked destiny in the eye — and then they suited up and took care of business.
This sounds like a heroic action movie, but these guys are hardly heroes. They’re the top executives of the giant papermaker Temple-Inland, and the power confronting them was International Paper, an even giant-er corporation. International was making a hostile bid to take over Temple-Inland, swallow the competitor whole, and spit out the five executives.
Sensing this, our “heroes” did, indeed, take care of business — their own. And when I said they “suited up,” it was not in battle gear, but in golden parachutes. Shareholders were recently sent a cryptic message from the corporation, urging them to approve “the compensation that may be paid … to Temple-Inland’s named executive officers.” Those would be our five self-serving stalwarts who negotiated the takeover deal, including CEO Doyle Simons. How much compensation? Simons is to get $8.8 million in cash, $29 million in stock payments, a $6 million pension, and $16 million in tax reimbursement. Yes, not only is Doyle getting a golden parachute, but the company is also paying the taxes he’ll owe on the gold he takes with him.
The top five “leaders” are bailing out of Temple-Inland with a total of $162 million to cushion their fall from the corporate pinnacle. Not so fortunate are some 10,000 of the corporation’s common workers, who were abandoned to the Merciless God of Mergers, which always requires sacrifices of jobs in these situations.
So the bosses get the gold, workers get the shaft, International Paper gets market domination, and consumers get less choice and higher prices. Where’s Teddy Roosevelt when we need him to bust these malicious merger merchants?
For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit www.jimhightower.com.