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The Barons of Bankruptcy: Survivors Who Laughed All the Way to the Bank

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They are the barons of bankruptcy–a privileged group of top business people who made extraordinary personal fortunes even as their companies were heading for disaster. They made their money at the top of the market, selling shares in companies whose values rocketed in 1999 and 2000. Today their companies, many in the telecommunications sector, have crashed, destroying hundreds of billions of dollars of investor wealth and almost 100,000 jobs. Yet the executives and directors of these bankrupt companies have walked away with gross earnings of $3.3 billion, a stunning pay-off for corporate failure.

This is how a report in yesterday’s Financial Times begins. It’s part of an exhaustive inquiry by the Financial Times into executive compensation at the largest US bankruptcies, covering the 25 largest US public companies to go bankrupt since January 2001.

Among the barons of bankruptcy are some familiar names. Ken Lay, former chairman and CEO of Enron, grossed $247 million. Jeff Skilling, former Enron president, grossed $89 million. Even these figures are dwarfed by the $512 million grossed by Gary Winnick of Global Crossing.

We are joined by Ien Cheng, the Financial Times reporter who did the inquiry.

Guest:

  • Ien Cheng, reporter for the Financial Times.

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