Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Greed is Good

At a hearing this week, Tribune Co.'s bankruptcy judge approved more than $13 million in bonuses to nearly 700 employees for their work last year, but denied about $2 million in severance payments to about 60 employees who were laid off before the company entered bankruptcy proceedings.

The employees had an average length of service of 20 years. According to the court, "Tribune had not demonstrated that the payments were necessary to the operation of the company," according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. However, the judge left the door open for the employees, stating that "if asked," he would order the severance funds to be held in escrow, pending reorganization.

The $60,000 question now is, will somebody at the "employee-owned company" ask, hmmm?

In another intriguing nugget of news, Tribune chief financial officer Chandler Bigelow III testified that no Tribune paper lost money last year (emphasis mine), while 21 broadcast stations gained advertising market share, according to the Associated Press. Company strategic initiatives are expected to generate $425 million in annual cash flow; other deals may reap more than $1 billion in proceeds.

Crocodile tears.