Perquisites are undoubtedly one of the more controversial areas of executive compensation. As such, I will not attempt to address the merits of perks, or why companies should or should not offer them. That is a debate best left for companies to discuss among their boards and executives.
However, when it comes to compensation disclosure, a subject that we are well versed on at Equilar, I can say that discussions surrounding executive perquisites occasionally offer the closest thing in an SEC filing to “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” that you will ever find. The nuggets of information that one finds while searching for perks can certainly provide some levity when toiling through CD&As seemingly written by Shakespearean scholars.
We’ve published numerous newsletter articles on this topic over the past several months and also recently released a study of Fortune 100 CEO benefits and perquisites that was picked up by BusinessWeek. While one of our chief findings indicated that 16.1 percent of Fortune 100 companies eliminated some executive perquisites in 2006 or by the start of 2007, I thought you might get a kick out of some of the more interesting examples that Aaron B. and David S. recently discovered as part of their research:
- UST – “an annual wine allowance of up to $5,000 to foster use of the Company’s wine products at events supported by such directors”
- Harley Davidson – “In addition, we provide to non-employee directors a clothing allowance of $1,500 to purchase Harley-Davidson® MotorClothes® apparel and accessories, along with a discount on our products that is the same discount available to all U.S. employees of the Motor Company. We may also provide a director with the use of a motorcycle where doing so may further our business objectives.”
- P.F. Changs – “Directors who are not P.F. Chang’s employees also receive an annual ‘Lucky Cat Dining Card’ which entitles each holder to $5,000 for use at any of the Company’s Bistro or Pei Wei restaurants.”
- Arctic Cat – “non-employee directors are provided annual use of an ATV and a snowmobile. The products are for personal use and are returned each year except in the year of a director’s retirement, in which case the director is permitted to keep the vehicles.”
Equilar Sports Note – I’m sure everyone is anxiously waiting to hear how we did in the Foster City Co-Ed Recreational Softball League playoffs. For those who missed John Kruk’s color commentary on Baseball Tonight, a quick update. To the surprise of everyone, as the #4 seed, we not only upset the #1 seed (The company’s name was H-J, which I believe is an auto body shop), but we did it in heroic fashion. Can you spell M-E-R-C-Y Rule? Yes, we pulled out our big guns (Naders and Farkhanda) and won 14 to 1.
After such a rousing victory to advance to the 2007 Foster City Finals, let’s just say we should have pulled a Michael Jordan and gone home and quit at the top of our game. We faced Vivian’s Idea (aka, Victor Conti and The 12 Disciples of Balco) who effortlessly launched missiles into the starry night. To say that this team was big would be like saying that A-Rod is adequately compensated. By the second inning, the FAA had instructed incoming flights to SFO to come in from the north to avoid being grazed by their moonshots. Unfortunately, to our dismay, the Mercy Rule was not in effect for the finals. Instead of just five innings of abuse, we got our full money’s worth and had to go the distance (seven innings). The good news is that we scored four runs. The not so good news is that they scored that before we got our first out and ended up with 20.
All in all, it was a great season and a fun time had by all. We are not used to 2nd place at Equilar, but we certainly exceeded our target goal for softball and we are looking forward to picking up where we left off in 2008.No tags for this post.