A licence to print money

2005

The latest example of unfettered corporate greed reported in today's Guardian:

A pay scheme that would make the fattest of British fat cats blush is to be voted on by shareholders of the American technology firm Qualcomm next month.

Under the scheme the chief executive would receive a $360m (£191m) windfall if the business was taken over.

Irwin Jacobs is sitting on share options worth $360m and he would receive the whole amount if the company was bought by a rival, according to pay consultants Pirc, who described the remuneration as "a licence to print money". Qualcomm, which is involved in wireless 3G technology, had revenues of $4.9bn last year.

In Britain such extravagant payments to directors would be opposed by shareholders, but investor activism in the United States appears in its infancy.

We particularly liked the comment made by Qualcomm's compensation committee noting that factors such as "leadership, ethics and corporate governance" had influenced their decision.

The Guardian | 'Sell the firm and we pay you $360m'