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Lame Duck CEO

13 May, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Pity Blockbuster Inc. chairman and CEO John Antioco.

In the aftermath of this week's shootout with dissident shareholder Carl Icahn at Big Blue's board of directors election, Antioco emerged with the dubious distinction of being voted out by 77 percent of shareholders and then asked back onto the board — with Icahn's blessing — just so he won't pull the ripcord on a $54 million “golden parachute” compensation package.

Talk about twisting in the wind. Antioco, for all practical purposes, has become the empty suit in the corner.

Sure, some analysts say the move makes sense given Icahn's preference for rabble-rousing corporate complacency vs. actually overseeing the more mundane day-to-day operations of a company. And Icahn could have likely persuaded the board to hire some Princeton buddy to run Blockbuster for a lot less than Antioco gets paid.

But this way, Icahn — no fan of idle corporate cash — can slowly wring the shareholder returns he has been calling for while at the same time letting Wall Street think there is merit to Antioco's initiatives in moving Blockbuster forward.

That said, Blockbuster Thursday issued a $3.8 million, or 2 cents-per-share, dividend — a far cry from the $330 million, or $1.74 per share, payout Icahn was seeking last week.

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