Countrywide's Mozilo Gives Up Severance (But Don't Ask, Don't Tell)
Late Sunday night, Countrywideannounced that Chairman and CEO Angelo Mozilo is voluntarily giving up his entire severance package if and when he leaves the company. The company says he’s walking away from a package worth $37.5 million, much lower than the $115 million estimate reported by an outside compensation expert in the Los Angeles Times.
This $37.5 million includes “severance, post-closing consultant fees, and continued perquisites.” Those perks include Countrywide paying his country club dues and letting him use the company jet even in retirement. That’s not going to happen now. In essence, Mozilo will receive no cash payment after the merger upon his eventual separation from the company, “other than amounts that he has already earned in full, such as retirement benefits and deferred compensation…”
He remains a major shareholder in Countrywide, and his stock and stock awards will be treated like everyone else’s after the merger. In voluntarily giving up millions, Mozilo says, “I believe this decision is the right thing to do…”
ANALYSTS WON’T BE ABLE TO ASK HIM ABOUT THAT, OR ANYTHING ELSE
Countrywide reports earnings on Tuesday in one of the most highly anticipated reports on Wall Street this quarter. Three months ago, CEO Mozilo vowed that after posting a $1.2 billion loss in the third quarter, the company would return to profitability in the fourth. No matter what the numbers turn out to be, analysts won’t be able to question anyone from the company about it.
Countrywide says its earnings will be released via PRESS RELEASE ONLY on Tuesday around 8 am ET. “Given the pending merger with Bank of America…the Company will not hold a webcast or conference call.”
Which means that if analysts find anything in the release that requires clarification, or if they have questions about the merger, or about Countrywide's liquidity, or about retention bonuses for top executives, or about pending litigation and stock selling investigations—well, call Bank of America. Good luck with that.
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