A bonus by any other name…

November 13, 2006

roses.jpegIt never ceases to amaze me how creative companies get when it comes to naming different bonuses. It almost makes you wonder where they come up with some of the names. Take the merger proxy that Symbol Technologies (SBL) filed earlier today relating to its $3.9 billion acquisition by Motorola (MOT). Under his existing separation agreement with Symbol, which coicidentally enough was altered just a few months before Motorola announced the acquisition, CEO and President Sal Iannuzzi was set to receive a $4 million "separation payment". But since Iannuzzi is likely to stay on post-merger, the $4 million is now being called a "transaction bonus". Post-merger, Iannuzzi will make $1 million a year, making him the second highest paid executive at Motorola. Equally interesting is that Iannuzzi took over as interim president and CEO of Symbol on Aug. 1, 2005 and that it took only three days for Motorola’s CEO, Ed Zander, to reach out to Iannuzzi to talk about a potential merger.

Symbol’s other top executives will receive similar bonuses, though various other names are used. CFO Timothy Yates has only agreed to stick around for six months post-merger, but will be eligible for a $1.5 million bonus at the end of those six months. Five other top Symbol executives will split $7.06 million in retention bonuses. There’s also another $20 million in stock — the cash value of outstanding options and restricted stock — for the seven top execs. And the requisite gross-up. Though the deal isn’t as hefty as the one offered to another Long Island-based company — North Fork Bancorp (NFB) — it’s not too shabby.

Symbol shareholders aren’t faring quite as well, however. The deal with Motorola is worth $15 a share, which is less than Symbol shares were trading during the spring of 2005.

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