Life at the Top

As seen in the pages of the Wall Street Journal

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Priceline Ex-CEO Darren Huston, Takes a 32% Cut in Pay


Updated April 28, 2016 6:42 p.m. ET

Priceline Group Inc.’s ousted chief executive took a 32% cut to his annual compensation after fellow directors decided in February not to pay him a cash bonus as they investigated a relationship they later deemed inappropriate.

Darren Huston, who had been the online travel agent’s CEO since 2014, resigned this week after the company found he violated Priceline’s code of conduct.

The Priceline board opened an investigation earlier this year after a tip from a whistleblower about Mr. Huston’s relationship with a woman at the company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Huston received $15 million in total compensation for 2015, including a $865,000 salary and stock awards worth $14 million. The previous year he received compensation of $22 million, including a $7 million cash bonus and $14 million stock award.

“The sole factor in determining not to award Mr. Huston a 2015 bonus was his conduct involving the employee,” according to Priceline’s proxy statement filed late Thursday. Other top executives at the company received 2015 cash bonuses in February that were equal to the previous year’s payments, according to the proxy.

Under the terms of his separation agreement, Mr. Huston won’t receive any severance payments and agreed to forfeit more than $13 million in equity awards. Priceline did hasten the vesting of other equity awards worth about $33.8 million on Thursday, according to an analysis by executive-pay specialist Mark Reilly.

Credit Suisse’s Gäel de Boissard’s Gone  Skiing


April 29, 2016 10:13 a.m. ET

Current and former executives at Credit Suisse Group AG, stretching from New York to the Swiss lender’s top ranks in Zurich, are sparring over who was responsible for the bulk of almost $1 billion in losses in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter.

As part of the overhaul, New York-based Timothy O’Hara was promoted to oversee Credit Suisse’s entire global markets unit, which trades stocks and bonds and sells research to hedge funds, pension funds and other clients. Gaël de Boissard, until then the bank’s London-based global head of fixed income, stepped down from that role and from the bank’s executive board.

But Mr. de Boissard told The Wall Street Journal through his lawyer that he “ceased to perform global head of fixed income duties of any kind with effect from the restructuring announcement” Oct. 21 and “ceased to have any reporting line to or from him.” Mr. de Boissard said he no longer received relevant risk reports after that date.

Through his lawyer, Mr. de Boissard said his “only role in the intervening period” through the week of Dec. 7 was completing the handoff of U.K. entities to other managers, “as per the request of Credit Suisse.” He attended a going-away party in his honor with colleagues Dec. 15 in Manhattan and left two days later on a five-month skiing trip.

Mr. O’Hara has been busy overseeing the revamped, smaller markets business. Mr. de Boissard was in Greenland this week, skiing. Rifts over the losses, and how they were described in public, remain at multiple levels inside Credit Suisse. Swiss and U.S. regulators have asked for details about the trading issues, risk reporting and related communications, according to people familiar with the matter.

H-P Chief Quits in Scandal


Updated Aug. 7, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

Mark Hurd, the man credited with reinvigorating Hewlett-Packard Co., resigned as chief executive of the technology giant after an investigation of his relationship with a female contractor found he violated the company’s business standards.

Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd unexpectedly resigned this afternoon following a sexual-harassment investigation. MarketWatch’s Dave Callaway & Dow Jones Newswires’ Neal Lipschutz discuss the implications for the tech giant.
H-P said Friday that Mr. Hurd, 53 years old, didn’t violate the company’s policy regarding sexual-harassment but submitted inaccurate expense reports that were intended to conceal what the company said was a “close personal relationship” with the woman.

The amount of money in question wasn’t disclosed. The woman wasn’t identified but was described as an outside marketing contractor for H-P between the fall of 2007 and the fall of 2009.

The news, released after stock markets closed Friday, shocked investors and caused H-P shares to plunge 8.3% to $42.48 in after hours trading.

Michael Holston, H-P’s general counsel, said Mr. Hurd demonstrated a “profound lack of judgment that seriously undermined his credibility and damaged his effectiveness.”

The resignation is “all about Mark’s behavior and judgment” said Cathie Lesjak, H-P’s chief financial officer, who will assume the CEO role until a permanent replacement for Mr. Hurd is found.

Mr. Hurd, H-P’s CEO since 2005, had been in discussions with the board to extend his tenure as CEO before the woman’s letter surfaced, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Mr. Hurd was in talks for a three-year contract that could have been valued at $100 million, a person familiar with the matter says.

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