Sunday, November 06, 2011

Assorted Wall Street Journal Notes

Some notes from the past few weeks of the Wall Street Journal:

"Mergers Open 'Golden Parachutes'," by Scott Thurm (11/01)
Here's one reason why companies can't afford to hire new workers -- they are paying top executives gigantic severance packages when companies merge.  You know how companies save money when they merge?  Often by laying off workers, who don't get gigantic severance packages.  Here are some examples of executive severance payoffs (warning:  take your blood pressure medicine first):
Sanjay Jha of Motorola (acquired by Google):  $65.7 million
Michel Orsinger of Synthes (acquired by Johnson & Johnson):  $51.9 million
George Lindemann of Southern Union (acquired by Energy Transfer Equity): $53.8 million
Marshall Larsen of Goodrich (acquired by United Technologies): $34.9 million

Here's another article on the same topic, "A Very Rich Adieu for Nabors CEO," by Mark Maremont (10/31).  Eugene Isenbert of Nabors Industries is getting $100 million and he isn't even leaving the company; he's just stepping down as CEO.  Snarf up your coffee on that one.

"Shale Gas Fuels Legal Boom," by Daniel Gilbert and Kris Maher (10/31) on the legal issues of mineral rights in Pennsylvania.  This is cropping up in the courtroom and lawyer's offices lately because of the Marcellus Shale drilling.  Just because you own land does not mean you own the minerals underneath it.  Scary.

"Nearly Half of States Link Teacher Evaluations to Tests," by Stephanie Banchero (10/26).  Self-explanatory, no mention of PA.

"Why Companies Aren't Getting the Employees They Need," by Peter Cappelli (10/24).  Now this is interesting, especially given the corporate executive severance articles listed above.  Cappelli lists what he calls the "big myths" in hiring problems.  He writes that 52% of US employers in his survey said they couldn't find workers with the right skills.  However, he says "some of the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can't get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered."  That's a big difference.  He also notes that American companies, unlike European companies, don't offer much on the job training, such as apprenticeships and paid internships.  Another point is only a third of the job openings in his study were filled from within.  Companies could find more of the skilled employees they want by hiring from within and offering training programs.  On a personal note, maybe they could take some of the money they are spending on executive severance and spend it on training and retention programs.  I think it would be cheaper in the long run, but that's just me.

There is a side article by Kris Maher, "A Tactical Recruiting Effort Pays Off" (10/24) on Range Resources hiring in Pennsylvania in the Marcellus Shale drilling industry.  Among their tactics are parade floats, cookouts and donating equipment to community colleges and technical schools.

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