Does CEO Stand for “Carrion-Eating Opportunist?”

By Yul

Remember Circuit City, the national consumer electronics retailer whose management kept making bad decisions until they destroyed the company?

Their CEO, James Marcum, joined the organization less than 2 months before it filed for bankruptcy. Either he’s incredibly bad at doing his homework before accepting a job, or he smelled death and took the reins intending all along to rob the grave.

Last year, when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Huennekens approved $4 million in bonuses for the employees who stayed to bury the company, Marcum gallantly removed his name from the list of recipients.

For his selflessness, Huennekens just awarded Marcum $350,000 in bonuses, AND he can charge $700 per hour as a consultant until there’s nothing left of Circuit City.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Huennekens wrote, “The full experience, expertise, unique skills and enthusiastic involvement of Mr. Marcum has been beneficial to the [Circuit City’s] efforts to maximize value for their estate.”

If Marcum had been as brilliant and “enthusiastic” about saving the company as he is in obliterating it, it seems 34,000 Circuit City employees might still have jobs.

Sadly, for his expertise now, the court limited Marcum to billing only $62,500 a month, which works out to about 89 ½ hours.

But don’t cry for him, Argentina. Marcum’s not exactly living under a bridge these days. In February, he became president and CEO of Central Parking Corporation, so this Circuit City money is all gravy.

Meanwhile, people like the trusting schmucks who kept the stores stocked with products will be lucky to get 13.5 cents on the dollar for what they’re owed because they’re considered “unsecured” creditors.

“Secured” creditors — like banks who loaned CC money based on collateral — stand to recover 100%.

And we thought banks were stupid when they needed government bailouts.

Marcum’s 11th-hour grab for money that rightfully belongs to vendors who, in good faith, tried long-term to keep Circuit City afloat, exemplifies what’s rotten in too many corner offices of Corporate America.

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2 Responses to Does CEO Stand for “Carrion-Eating Opportunist?”

  1. Adele says:

    Yul, I have nothing to add to your excellent post, except that you have quite a talent for turning a phrase. “Carrion eating opportunists, indeed!

  2. catsworking says:

    Thank you, Adele. For the guy to join the company when it was clearly on the skids, and then sop up whatever he can now, after he already has a new job, gives a new meaning to “heinous greed.” He undoubtedly was collecting a paycheck during the previous months, while he presided over the demolition of the company and circulated his resume.

    And as usual, Judge Huennekens thinks it’s all just hunky-dory while vendors who did business with Circuit City in good faith get screwed.

    I just wonder what kind of jerks are running Central Parking, to hire a guy who may only give them part-time effort while he sops up every last penny he can from Circuit City as a “consultant.” Seems to me that a CEO whose previous gig went down the tubes wouldn’t be considered much of a catch.

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