The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week
Cuckoo for co-co
1. Freston and Moonves Get Co-OptedViacom (VIAB) promoted two top executives to the posts of co-president and co-chief operating officer on Tuesday.
The appointments, says Viacom, are part of "the orderly transition to the next generation of senior management for Viacom."
There you have it, folks. Proof that Viacom's brain trust has collectively gone nuts.
See, there is no better way to create a disorderly transition than to tell two executives to share the job of co-chief-something-or-other. There's no better way to speed up an executive's departure than to go the co-route.
And though it's traditional for the co-whatevers to profess their abiding friendship and respect for each other on the way in -- as did Viacom's Tom Freston and Les Moonves on Tuesday -- these vows of collegiality on the way in serve only to heighten the snickering on the way out.
Yeah, remember back in the days when Time Warner (TWX) was known as AOL Time Warner? Co-chief operating officers Dick Parsons and Bob Pittman acted all friendly for the public after Parsons was designated the next chief executive and Pittman the next sole COO. Less than six months later, Pittman was out the door.
Pittman's departure recalled decade-old disharmony at Time Warner, back when it had been freshly assembled from Time Inc. and Warner Communications. First came co-chairmen and co-CEOs Steve Ross and Richard Munro, then co-CEOs Ross and Nick Nicholas, and then co-CEOs Steve Ross and Jerry Levin. The transitions, as we recall, weren't smooth and orderly.Elsewhere, in April 1998, John Reed and Sandy Weill said they'd happily work as co-chairmen and co-CEOs of Citigroup (C). "I'm used to sharing the power and responsibility," Weill said when the deal to create Citigroup was announced, according to CNNfn. "I have been married to my wife for 43 years," Weill said. "I'm used to being told what to do and we have managed to work that out over a long period of time." A year and a half after Citigroup formed, Reed was out the door. "A long period of time" means one thing at home and another thing at the office, evidently. "Tom and Les have been good friends for years," Sumner Redstone assured Wall Street analysts on Tuesday. Well, when things fall apart a year from now, at least they'll have those happy memories to look back on.
2. Say the Secret Word and You Win $2.7 BillionKudos to HealthSouth for spotlighting an important but too-often-overlooked ingredient of any successful accounting fraud: the code word.
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