Warren Buffet’s $28 billion deal to buy Heinz will be very good indeed for the company’s current CEO. SEC filings reveal that William Johnson could walk away from the buyout, and the company, with more than $200 million.Even by the inflated standards of CEO exit packages, that’s quite a sum. According to The Wall Street Journal, it would be among the 10 largest in history. There have been only six other packages worth more than $200 million.
By way of comparison, former Tyco CEO Edward Breen recently received around $150 million for helping rebuild the company after a series of scandals.
Should he decide to leave, Johnson is due $56 million in “bonuses and other awards” related to the completion of the deal and $56 million in deferred compensation. He’d also have shares worth $99.7 million for a grand total of $212.7 million.
Johnson may agree to stay, but 3G Capital, Buffet’s partner in the deal, replaced the CEO at Burger King after a 2010 deal to buy out the company. He’s also 64, making this a pretty appealing time to retire.
Heinz has performed well under Johnson, but giant exit packages have been known to backfire. Recently, departing Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella was offered $78 million as part of a non-compete exit agreement. The outrage over the package was so great that the company had to withdraw it. It also helped rally support behind a Swiss bill that gives shareholders greater say over executive pay.
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