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HOSPITALS: Tenet losing independents off the board

Tenet stock is back up to $11.20 at Monday’s close, up from a low of $9.15 a few weeks back when rumors of bankruptcy caused some of the weaker hands (e.g. me–curses, curses) to fold, and the stock teetered towards its all time lows. But the story is not quite over yet. The Street.com which tends to be a shill for short-sellers, but often has nuggets of truth in its analysis, reports that several external directors are leaving the board. The WSJ further reports that one of those directors, ex-Toys’R’Us CEO Robert Nakasone made public a very sour resignation letter:

    The former director said he opposed the selection in September of an insider, Mr. Fetter, to be chief executive. He said he opposed the board’s decision last July to terminate discussions relating to a possible combination of Tenet with a smaller company, which he didn’t identify. But the final straw that prompted his resignation, he said, was the board’s adoption of a 2004 executive-bonus program that could result in big payouts to about 100 executives, including a $2 million award to Mr. Fetter.

    “In 17 years of service on large public company boards, I have never witnessed such a sense of executive entitlement,” Mr. Nakasone wrote. The bonuses might be paid even if financial results this year aren’t any better than those of 2003, he said.

You’ll recall that 2002-2003 wasn’t a banner year for Tenet or its stock price.

Apparently Tenet thinks that Nakasone is just a board member who was disruptive in meetings (and to be fair Bob Kerrey, 9/11 Commision member and Tenet Board member agrees with them). Of course, you can be disruptive in more ways than one. And publicly calling attention to multi-million dollar bonuses for the CEO, when things look bad financially might be seen as a little “disruptive”.

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