Closing the 'golden coffin' at Disney

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Over the past year, more than a dozen companies have come under fire for so-called "golden coffin" deals. This is where a top executive's family gets cash or stock payouts if he or she dies on the job. At Disney's shareholder meeting today, activist investors are going to try to put an end to those deals. Caitlan Carroll reports.


Caitlan Carroll: Peek inside a golden coffin and you'll find salaries, bonuses, stock options and severance payouts -- all for the family of the "permanently" retired CEO. For shareholders, this can mean millions of dollars of after-death pay for the ultimate form of non-performance.

Rich Ferlauto: It's pay that just about anybody else in society doesn't get. So why are CEOs so special?

Rich Ferlauto is with the union leading the charge against Disney:

Ferlauto: It's money that's not tied to performance.

He wants to bury those golden coffin deals.

Michelle Leder is founder of footnoted.org. She says golden coffins are often disguised at hard-to-understand proxy statements. Not only that, but shareholder votes are non-binding.

Michelle Leder: It's not a democracy.

In 2005, Disney did a $4.5 million golden coffin deal with CEO Bob Iger. Disney says it hasn't offered new executives this benefit for the past several years, but wants to keep the option open.

In Los Angeles, I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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