Monday, October 10, 2005

Suffer the Little Children, and Their Tuition

I hate to pick on Elizabeth Arden, Inc. Its CEO only made 1.2 million in salary and bonus last year. For God's sake, I know lawyers who make that much. Still, I'm compelled to report that the proxy mentions some amusing perks. Executive Vice President Jacobus Steffens, who earned about $600,000 in salary and bonus for the last fiscal year, is a lucky man: the company paid his children's secondary school tuition (about $48,000) and also gave him a car allowance of about $16,000. It looks like he got this stuff the year before, too.

The proxy doesn't explain why Mr. Steffens got the royal treatment, or whether he's the only one. Perhaps the other executives' kids attend less expensive schools, thus allowing their tuition payments to fall below the disclosure threshold for perks.

Personally, I don't think there should be any disclosure threshold for things like this: If a company buys an executive's kid even one rubber duckie, they should have to tell the shareholders about it, and maybe put a picture of Kid, with Duckie, in the annual report.

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