Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya Where the Dog Shouldda Bit Ya.

This holiday season, the Tribune Tower's cleaning crew will be working overtime to scrub the stench of failure from the executive offices.

From Trib Inc's LA Times:
Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis J. FitzSimons is expected to announce his resignation as early as today, a person close to the company said Tuesday. The resignation would be the first departure of a top Tribune executive as the company prepares to go private under the leadership of Chicago businessman Sam Zell.

FitzSimons, 57, a 25-year veteran of Tribune, is in line to walk away with as much as $40 million, depending on the date on which he chooses to depart, according to corporate disclosure statements. ***

FitzSimons' potential payout could include severance of $10.7 million, stock options and restricted stock worth $6.9 million and a $4-million "gross-up," an additional payment designed to cover his taxes on the rest of the package. FitzSimons also owned 498,202 shares as of March 31, according to company documents. Those are worth $16.9 million at the price of $34 a share under the Zell buyout.
Just imagine how enormous FitzSimons payout would have been if he had had any success in the newspaper business.
FitzSimons' tenure as head of Tribune has been a troubled one. After joining the company in 1982 as sales director of WGN-TV in Chicago, he rose through the ranks of Tribune's television operations. He became CEO in 2003, three years after Tribune's acquisition of Times Mirror Co., the owner of The Times, and was named chairman in 2004. ***

FitzSimons had been instituting expense reductions across the company. But those actions created turmoil, especially at the newspapers. At The Times, two publishers and two editors resigned, the latter in opposition to staff and budget cuts ordered from Chicago headquarters. Similar turnover occurred at other newspapers in the chain.
Forty Million Dollars... Whew... That's a lot of scratch.

I'm fairly certain that I have the business acumen necessary to reduce a nationwide major media company to a mere "profit opportunity" for Sam Zell.

And I could have done it in half the time and for a mere $20 million bucks.

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