Former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli has been offered a position at the private-equity fund Cerberus Capital, but Nardelli's former employer is balking at letting him accept the job, CNBC's Charlie Gasparino has learned.
HomeDepot may try to block Nardelli's move to Cerberus, citing the non-compete clause in his contract that paid him around $200 million when left the company. One of Cerberus' current or a possible future holding competes in some way with Home Depot, people with knowledge of the matter told Gasparino.
While Nardelli may be persona non grata in the public markets following his controversial tenure at HomeDepot, he's having no problem attracting the attention of private-equity firms looking for seasoned managers to run companies in their portfolios, Gasparino said.
Nardelli was recently offered a position by Cerberus, a low-profile but highly profitable investment fund with around $24 billion in assets, including ownership stakes in car rental companies like Alamo, and in retail chains like Mervyn's.
On its face, Cerberus would look like a perfect fit for Nardelli, Gasparino said. The firm and its CEO Stephen Feinberg keep a low profile compared with competitors like Blackstone and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Nardelli is considered a brilliant operator of businesses, Gasparino said, but among the reasons Nardelli was forced out at HomeDepot earlier this year was his difficulty dealing with the press.
Neither Cerberus, HomeDepot or Nardelli would comment on the matter. But by balking at Nardelli's move, it shows just how much the controversy over his $200 million payout has touched a nerve inside Home Depot, Gasparino said.
As reported earlier by CNBC, both lead director Ken Langone, and Jack Welch--Nardelli's former boss during his years at General Electric--attempted to get Nardelli to accept a reduction in the money. Nardelli refused and was asked to leave the firm.
When news of the $200 million payout in his contract was made public, HomeDepot was hit was another wave of negative publicity. One source told Gasparino that officials at Home Depot are worried about another round of publicity if the company allowed Nardelli to take a high-paying job, particularly with a company that's a competitor.