August 9, 2009

U.S. ‘compensation czar’ has tough job

The Obama administration's compensation czar, Kenneth Feinberg, faces a delicate task as he moves to limit pay for top executives, U.S. analysts say.

It will up to Feinberg in the coming months to set executive compensation at seven companies that received large government bailouts -- American International Group, Citigroup, Bank of America, General Motors Co., Chrysler Group, Chrysler Financial and GMAC. His task is complicated and unprecedented, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

I wish I could hum the theme song for 'Mission: Impossible' because I think his job is mission impossible, Robert Profusek, a compensation lawyer, told the Times. On the one hand, there's this populist outrage that is fanned every other day by somebody in Washington. "¦ But he can't just go in there with a hatchet and cut everything because the good people will leave. That's not in our best interest as taxpayers.

You've got to allow these companies to make the money for the shareholders, added Linda Rappaport, head of the executive compensation practice at the firm Shearman & Sterling. And to make the money for the shareholders, they have to have the talent. And to have the talent, they have to be able to pay them competitively.