By on August 18, 2011


With debt collectors closing in on all sides, Saab’s shaky PR took another hit today as the Swedish media repotred that members of the board of Swedish Automobile (SWAN), Saab’s parent company, received pay increases of some 633 percent over 2010. Thelocal.se reports that

New chairman of the board, Hans Hugenholtz, received a raise of 633 percent, from 147,150 kronor (about $23k) to 611,163 kronor (about $950k). Others also had their pay increased significantly.

Though the amounts are relatively small, and the dwindling ranks of unquestioning Saab supporters argue that the compensation is low compared to the Dutch average (SWAN is incorporated in The Netherlands), this is just the latest PR disaster to hit the struggling automaker. One Saab employee sums up the mood:

It feels like everyone is out to grab what they can get.

And no wonder they feel that way. Not only did worker paychecks arrive late, but Sweden’s national debt office has begun foreclosing on the first of its outstanding claims… and the initial amount (about $58k) could have been covered by the chairman’s pay increase alone. Sending the message that board compensation is more important than staying out of insolvency has to be some of the worst PR imaginable. Still, some will defend Saab no matter what…
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By on June 8, 2010

With a GM IPO in the fourth quarter of this year looking more likely than ever, GM has revealed just how much its top management stands to gain from the automaker’s post-bailout share offering. Based on trading of Motors Liquidation bonds, which GM will convert into stock and warrants, a JP Morgan Chase report pegs the company’s value at $70b. Based on yesterday’s bond trading prices, however, BusinessWeek estimates new GM’s value at $48b. With a float of 500m shares planned, that puts GM’s current stock price at about $96/share. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at GM’s planned executive stock compensation.

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By on May 11, 2010

Speaking at the same Detroit conference on the auto bailout that Steve Rattner and Ron Bloom attended, the Center for Automotive Research’s Sean McAlinden proclaimed the end of Detroit’s era of unsustainable high wages. In 2007, said McAlinden, building a car in North America cost GM about $1,400 more per car than it did Toyota, thanks largely to a $950 health care charge. Since then, GM’s bailout and renegotiated wage and benefit contracts with the union have actually brought GM’s hourly compensation to just under what the CAR says the transplants pay. The AP reports that McAlinden’s estimate of GM’s average hourly worker salary is $69,368 while the transplant average is $70,185. Better still is McAlinden’s prediction that

between 2013 and 2015, Toyota could even be paying $10 more per hour than GM unless the Japanese company reacts and lowers wages.

And all it took was giving the UAW a $17.5 stake in the new GM!

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By on April 2, 2010

A few days ago, we reported that Toyota had caved in to demands of the Commerce Bureau and the Consumer Protection Committee of China’s Zhejiang Province. Under the agreement, Toyota will reimburse Zhejiang customers for losses sustained from the RAV4 recall. Toyota will send people to pick up and deliver the affected vehicles, and will provide a loaner while the car is in the shop. The whole thing was started by New York’s AG Andrew Cuomo who strong-armed Toyota into supplying similar services to recall-affected residents of the Empire State. The Zhejiang-accord had The Nikkei [sub] worried: “Such an agreement could lead to demands for similar deals from customers in not only other provinces, but also other countries.” It didn’t take long. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2010

The Detroit Free Press reports that Ford’s Alan Mulally made $12.8m last year, nearly double the $7.53m he made in 2008. Despite a considerable increase in Mulally’s overall compensation, his cash salary actually declined to $1.4m, from about $2m in 2008. In addition to the $12.85m he made in salary, bonuses and other compensation, Mulally banked a further $5.05m in stock options. Chairman Bill Ford Jr. continues to work without compensation, although he continues to accrue stock options worth $16.8m. Those options can not be exercised until the firm’s auto operations are profitable. And while Ford’s 2009 profits justify big executive payouts, federal pay czar Ken Feinberg has cut back on executive compensation at bailed-out automakers GM and Chrysler.

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By on February 26, 2010

It’s been over ten days since GM’s Bob Lutz took to the local papers to complain that GM’s executives are “way, way, way underpaid,” and its still been less than a week since Ed Whitacre’s $9m compensation package was announced but politicians are only now starting to sit up and take notice. Barney Frank (D-MA) can usually be counted on to give greedy CEOs a good dressing-down, but at this point, Mama Frank seems to have given up on the government-owned automaker’s execs. The Detroit News reports Frank’s mild disappointment thusly:

“I don’t think Mr. Whitacre was going to go do something else” if he got paid less, Frank told reporters this afternoon after a hearing. “He’s having a good time there. I think they way overcompensate themselves.”

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By on February 15, 2010


Everyone in every business everywhere thinks they are at least somewhat underpaid, and for most, there’s a certain amount of truth to the sentiment. But then, most Americans don’t have jobs that allow them to destroy billions of dollars in value over the course of their careers. Nor does the Detroit News give most of us a forum to whine about our perceived underpayment. Having helped lead GM into bankruptcy and bailout (with thousands of Americans losing their jobs along the way), Bob Lutz still isn’t happy about executive pay limits at GM, and he clearly has no compunction about airing his grievances to the DetN.

What you see is what you get, and it ain’t a lot. All I know is, right now, we are given our responsibility, and given the rigors of the job and demands and the accountability, I would say we are being paid way, way, way below market. Right now, that isn’t a problem, but over time, clearly a company that undercompensates senior executives is going to have a retention or recruiting problem

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By on November 13, 2009

What? (courtesy i.bnet.com)

Automotive News [sub] reports that President Obama’s Pay Czar has done an about face. Kenneth Feinberg pledged to remove the $500,000 salary cap for NEW executives hired for TARP-recipients—if he’s convinced that a rule-busting pay boost would help the bailout queens return U.S. taxpayer’s money. Feinberg’s climb-down comes just two days after New GM’s federally-appointed Chairman of the Board said that Uncle Sam’s pay caps could be, indeed should be, “modified.” Of course, Ed Whitacre didn’t make his suggestion directly. Nor did Feinberg reveal the locus of his “come to Jesus with cash” moment. “[Feinberg] said the automotive firms did not appeal his rulings. But he said he would be open to requests to hire in new executives at competitive pay. ‘If General Motors or any other company wants to bring someone in laterally — laterally — and competitive pay packages require that lateral hires get certain competitive pay, what have you, we’re perfectly willing to examine that.’” So the new rule: GM can hire someone for more than $500,000 in cash per year if that person was already making $500,000 per year doing the same job, only better (one would hope). Which would exclude, uh, no one. And create mucho resentment at that special place where RenCen’s express elevators ascend to glory. More Feinbergian 180 after the jump, and a mystery to be solved . . .

(Read More…)

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