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The imperial CEO

Tom Fox | December 19, 2017

Writing in a political context in the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh said that “High office is an audit of the occupant. It brings out what is actually there.” The Man From FCPA was struck by this maxim as it is also true of senior management in a business, particularly a CEO. I thought about this when considering the response by former GE, CEO Jeff Immelt about the use of ghost planes which followed Immelt’s corporate jet when he traveled on behalf of the company. The idea was that he would have a second jet follow him when traveling internationally, in case his own plane developed problems. This way, he could continue without delay. But that's a very expensive failsafe. Spendthrift, even.

In a letter to John J. Brennan, chairman and CEO of Vanguard and GE’s lead director, Immelt said, “...

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