& cplSiteName &

Headcount: Grinch Patrol

Phil Harvey

Is your boss killing Christmas?

Headcount notes a disturbing trend in cost-cutting as corporate Christmas cheer around the globe is going the way of the 3-martini lunch.

Reports out of Australia are that Telstra Corp.'s new CEO, Sol Trujillo, has cancelled his company's Christmas parties in order to spare the carrier more expense as it deals with layoffs and restructuring.

In Maine, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) gave Penobscot County a load of gift certificates for cell phones and other services as part of the County's participation in a phone company promotion. The Bangor Daily News reports county commissioner Tom Davis wanted to convert the certificates to cash and use the loot to pay down the city's debts, rather than using it to buy Christmas presents for city employees.

Truly it's no fun when folks are still looking to pinch pennies during the one time of year they should be handing them over to the employees that make their companies tick.

But Headcount suspects that even though the telecom biz is swinging back into shape, there will be no shortage of corporate grinches this year. So let's rat 'em out. If your boss is going cheap on Christmas or making your holidays any less cheery, send a note to [email protected] and we'll do our best to expose their dastardly ways.

And, while we wait by our email box with coal in hand, let's move on by bringing you the most interesting hirings and firings from the past few days:

  • Naked and Famous
    Savvis Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: SVVS) is going to pay its former CEO, Robert McCormick, some portion of his 2005 annual bonus, even after "Big" Bob was fired following a scandalous $220,000 strip-club charge made to his company credit card. Savvis says in its SEC filings that McCormick's bonus will be some prorated portion of the $337,500 he was eligible for, had he been employed for all of 2005. (See Savvis CEO Scores Stripper Suit, Savvis Stripped of CEO , and Strip-Club Scandal CEO Quits.)

    McCormick's base salary for 2005 was $450,000 and the company says he's also "entitled to an additional bonus to the extent the financial performance of the Company exceeds its targets."

    Savvis is going to buy all of McCormick's stock back at $0.72 a share. Savvis shares closed at $0.69 on Wednesday. On top of all that, the Savvis board has accelerated the vesting date of his 2,012,478 stock options that would have vested on March 6, 2006.

    In exchange for making him very rich – and very unemployed – SEC filings reveal that McCormick agreed not to recruit Savvis's customers or its employees for one year. It also says McCormick will indemnify Savvis "for any liability imposed… in any litigation relating to the disputed American Express charges incurred by Mr. McCormick in October 2003."

    Headcount can't confirm the speculation that McCormick will use his Boner Bonus to build his own Champagne Room.

  • Acme Flopsweat
    Headcount congratulates former Infonetics Research Inc. analyst Kevin P. Mitchell on his new position as director of solutions marketing at Acme Packet. Sadly, Kevin's move has been questioned by varmints already during his short tenure. (See More From Mitchell and Mitchell Jumps Ship.)

    But Headcount wanted to reassure ol' Kev that the move from being one of the most influential analysts in the entire telecom industry to being Acme Packet's director of solutions marketing was a good one.

    Don't look back, Kevin. There are green pastures ahead of you and blue skies above. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, the peasants are singing, and session border controllers are being commoditized and turned into router blades.

    Ahem. Sorry. Ignore that last part, Kev. You'll be fine. Your VP of sales poses with a drum kit, for gosh sakes (Spinal Tap, anyone?). If that doesn't convey that everything's under control, I don't know what will.

    Seriously, Headcount wishes you well. We do. See? Here's a picture of us wishing you well.

  • Mike Z. Brings Out the Broom
    The executive offices at Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) are once again awash with change -- and this time the change isn't the kind that's been lost and found in the vendor's various earnings restatements over the past several years.

    Nortel's new CEO Mike S. Zafirovski announced to the company that 28-year Nortel veteran Brian McFadden and 18-year veteran Sue Spradley were leaving the company. (See McFadden, Spradley out at Nortel.)

    So Headcount has to wonder: who's next?

    That can't possibly be the end of the cleanup, especially from a CEO who was not a career Nortel man himself.

    Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin gives Headcount an idea: Wherever the next cuts are made, it probably won't be from wireless.

    "Brian McFadden’s career at Nortel and his high-level contacts within the industry were on the optical transmission side -- the high-flying business within Nortel during the late 1990s," Perrin writes in a note to Headcount. "From my perspective, it appears that wireless executives have moved up within Nortel, in rank and stature within the company, over the past couple of years. In addition, Nortel’s new CEO is coming in from the wireless industry, which is another indication of where the company is placing its biggest bets."

    A Headcount tip o' the hat to Sterling. We'll keep watching Nortel to see if being wired turns out to the thing that gets people cut loose.

    One more thing on Nortel. Headcount wonders: Will some of the next executives cut will be those whose names were linked to the Return to Profitability scandal -- those execs that volunteered to pay back bonuses in the wake of former CEO Frank Dunn's undoing?

    If so, it's worth noting who is on that list and who is still on Nortel's executive team. Those names include Robert Y.L. Mao, president of Nortel China; Dion Joannou, president of Nortel North America; and Steve Pusey, president of Nortel Eurasia. Other executives that are paying back RTP bonuses – and are still active at Nortel – include William Donovan, Nortel's global HR chief; and Chahram Bolouri and Pascal Debon, each of whom holds the nebulous title of Senior Advisor. (See Nortel Sues Former Executives.)

    Another Headcount rumination: Nortel's Susan E. Shepard has the coolest job on Earth. Seriously, can a firm that's fresh-from-scandal ever get rid of someone with the title of Chief Ethics Officer?

    We wrap up, as usual, with a summary of other industry appointments and disappointments from the past few days:

    That's all for now. But it doesn't have to be. Keep those news tips coming to [email protected].

    — Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

    (3)  | 
    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
  • Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
    12/5/2012 | 2:52:05 AM
    re: Headcount: Grinch Patrol
    After your CEO gets caught up in a scandal, is it still proper to let him participate in all the available bonuses that other execs get?

    12/5/2012 | 2:51:56 AM
    re: Headcount: Grinch Patrol
    No it is not proper...

    Only ruthless globalization can stop this kind of inefficient use of capital. I propose outsourcing of executive management.
    12/5/2012 | 2:51:53 AM
    re: Headcount: Grinch Patrol
    Outsourcing executives?

    You mean like rent-a-CFO or something?

    You can already do that, sort of. Just not for larger, public companies.

    Featured Video
    Upcoming Live Events
    November 5, 2019, London, England
    November 7, 2019, London, UK
    November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
    December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
    December 3, 2019, New York, New York
    March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
    May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events