Pac Brands spent millions to retain top jocks like David Bortolussi, but the plan wasn’t Holeproof

Not just any old Tom, Dick or Harry can run a socks and jocks shop like Pacific Brands.

Which is why its boardroom brains trust offered more than $3 million in retention/incentive payments to its top executives in July last year when the owner of Bonds undies was sinking under a massive debt load and faltering sales. And considering asset sales that would further imperil its top talent.

It means that boss David Bortolussi​ – who is just short of his first anniversary in the role – did not have to wait for the recent turnaround in Pac Brand’s fortunes before pocketing his $1.2 million retention bonus.

This is nearly double his base salary, and may have softened the blow of watching his predecessor, former Foster’s executive John Pollaers​, walk out the door with $1.4 million in lieu of notice.

It might also help compensate him for the double duties he performs as the acting boss of the company’s undies division.

It appears the retention payments did not prove compelling enough to keep his undies underling, Anthony Heraghty​, in the role.

Heraghty joined Super Retail Group in April, a few months before Pac Brands turnaround story took hold of the market.

The head of the Hard Yakka business, Matthew Claughton​, pocketed more than $766,000 before walking out the door in November 7, weeks before Wesfarmers took control of the business. He now works with private equity group KKR Capstone.

His untimely departure meant that Pac Brands had to borrow an executive from Wesfarmers for a few weeks to tide things over before Richard Goyder’s boys out West took control.

With Pac Brands investors now sniffing a dividend in the air following Tuesday’s results, CBD suspects that the Peter Bush-led board might also have its hand out to restore the 25 per cent pay cut they took in 2012 as the company descended into fiscal mayhem.

And who could refuse a guy who performed executive chairman duties – between knifing Pollaers in July, and appointing Bortolussi in August – without accepting a penny in extra pay. Aboart pay

Speaking of retention payments.

CBD wonders if it was a Mormon revolt, or, other factors which has triggered the departure of Richard O’Brien from Salt Lake City-based drilling group, Boart Longyear.

O’Brien said it was the “right time” to step down, with his newly appointed chairman, Marcus Randolph, taking a closer look at the business as a executive chairman.

Randolph sailed on to the board early this year along with the capital injection by what is Boart’s largest investor, Centrebridge Partners.

O’Brien’s selfless act, barely two years after he joined Boart, will not be without cost.

While his actual departure date has not been determined, it will presumably be before April 1 next year.

This date would have been rather important for O’Brien because it is when the final tranche of his $5 million “strategic retention award” would have vested. Gender agenda 

A CEO-studded lunch, supporting gender equality in the workplace, certainly helped bring out the soft and cuddly side of our alpha-male corporate chiefs.

Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev told the star-studded lunch that one of the big advantages of being in the Male Champions of Change, which promotes gender equality, was listening to other people.

Even arch rivals like ANZ’s chief teller, ‘Iron’ Mike Smith.

“In the boxing ring of day-to-day businesses, we like to punch each other,” ‘Sugar Ray’ Narev said.

“On issues of this importance, we need to stand back and say, gosh, much of what’s being done with our competitors is excellent. What can we do to emulate it, for the broader benefit of what we’re trying to achieve?”

Rocky Balboa could not have put it better.

Helping keep things civil was former governor general Quentin Bryce and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.

Other senior boofs in the audience included Qantas boss Alan Joyce, ASX chief Elmer Funke Kupper​, Rio Tinto’s executive Greg Lilleyman, Telstra’s Andy Penn, and former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson.

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