Old Guard Leaving the Board

It’s out with the old and in with the new when it comes to the Nortel board. Exiting stage left are John Cleghorn, Robert Brown and Robert Ingram, who won’t stand for re-election during May’s AGM. Needless to say, it has been a thankless job for these seasoned executives who probably thought sitting on the Nortel board was going to be a nice, high-profile gig with the country’s flagship technology company. Instead, it turned out to be a nightmare as an accounting scandal destroyed Nortel’s credibility. It should be pointed out, however, that it was the board and the compensation committee that approved a bonus program that provided the temptation for a dozen or so executives, including ex-CEO Frank Dunn, to allegedly cook the books. While Dunn has been vilified for his apparent misdeeds, the board has gotten off way too easy. I mean, one of the directors – Guylaine Saucier – was an expert in corporate governance so you figure she might have been able to alert her fellow directors about the perils of creating a bonus structure that was vulnerable to potential abuse. You really have to wonder about the new members of the board and why they decide to step up to the plate. I guess it’s a sense of faith in Nortel and its importance to Canada, as well as the belief that if the company does revive itself, there will be a lot of personal satisfaction in being part of the process.

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