The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Aug. 10
Last year, Johnson & Johnson(JNJ) led the way, ponying up $70 million to settle charges that it paid kickbacks to win business in Greece, Iraq, Poland and Romania. Now Pfizer is getting busted for making improper payments to officials in Russia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, the Czech Republic, China and Italy.
You know what? Forget the line-item idea. With all those countries involved, let's just make bribery an Olympic event and be done with it.
2. Duke's Lack of Progress
Finally, some light is being shed on the CEO shuffle at Duke Energy(DUK) and, boy, is it showing the dark side of former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson (pictured, above).
When we last left our friends at Duke in early July, CEO Jim Rogers was telling the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) that he was shocked when the board informed him that they were dumping Johnson from the top job following the merger between Duke and Progress, and installing him instead. Rogers informed the regulator at the time that the reason for the last-second change was his board's dislike for Johnson's "autocratic" style.
Less than thrilled by the CEO bait-and-switch, the NCUC, which approves electricity rate-increase requests, opened an investigation as to whether it was misled after approving the utility merger June 29. Meanwhile, Johnson was paid $45 million in severance to silently slink off -- and, so far, has kept his part of the bargain.
Well, the investigation is under way and while it probably won't derail the merger, it sure explains why a pair of high-ranking women made tracks after Johnson was initially appointed CEO.
"Each shared their concerns and disheartening conversations with their new bosses from Progress with me many months before receiving their offers. I am disappointed. I have worked diligently to create a pipeline of strong women leaders," Rogers wrote to a Duke board member this May, adding that both female executives "sensed they could not succeed in the new company."
How revealing! More importantly, how ironic!
The former CEO of Progress Energy wasn't simply dumped because he was "autocratic," but because he showed an incomprehensible lack of progress.
1. HP Charges Ahead