Nortel's Owens Joins Fat Cat Club

CEO of troubled Nortel signs up for $1 million a year, and a potential $1.7 million bonus

September 3, 2004

2 Min Read
Nortel's Owens Joins Fat Cat Club

If you're among the Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) staff about to lose their jobs as a result of the latest cost-cutting measures, you may want to look away (see Nortel Cuts 3,500 Jobs).

With the vendor still embroiled in an accounting scandal that has attracted a number of external investigations, seen board level executives lose their jobs, and seen the share price slide from $8.50 in February to $3.83 yesterday, Nortel CEO Bill Owens has signed an employment contract worth up to $2.7 million a year (see Problems Mount-y Up for Nortel, Dunn's Done With Nortel , and Nortel Rattles Nerves).

That sum, comprising a base salary of $1 million and an annual bonus worth up to $1.7 million, was revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing made yesterday, when the vendor also announced its latest restatement delay (see Nortel Restates Delay of Restatement ).

While Owens has been president and CEO of Nortel since April 27, when his predecessor Frank Dunn was given the order of the boot (see Nortel Dismisses Dunn), his employment agreement was finalized just this week. The "target annual bonus of 170% of base salary" will be determined under Nortel's "Success Incentive Plan," and based on "the generally applicable performance criteria under such plan," though there's no indication of what those criteria might be.

He is also in a pension scheme that will "accrue ratably over the first five years of his employment." The filing continues: "Assuming retirement at the end of such five years, Mr. Owens will receive an estimated monthly pension benefit of U.S.$33,540, payable over the five year period following his retirement." That's a neat $402,480 a year for five years.

Owens, though, has some way to go before he catches up with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) CEO Pat Russo, who pocketed a $3,245,333 bonus in addition to her annual salary of $1.2 million last year (see It's Christmas Time at Lucent).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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