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Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Colgate discloses perks program for 800 top executives


Colgate-Palmolive Co, which announced on Tuesday that it is eliminating 4,400 jobs, disclosed in a regulatory filing that many of its top executives and officers are given allowances of up to US$11,500a year to spend on anything from pet sitters to running shoes to karate lessons to movie rentals.

The plan, called "Above and Beyond," was detailed in the company's quarterly filing last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The program has been in place since 1986 and covers 800 executives. Under the plan, executives and officers can ask for reimbursement for instructional videos, exercise equipment, such as rowing or skiing machines, grooming and boarding services for pets, pet walking services and sitters, and veterinarian fees and visits.

Twenty top officers are each eligible for an $11,500 yearly allowance. Between 110 and 120 vice presidents are eligible for $10,000 allowances and 650 executives are eligible for allowances of either $2,000 or $4,000, depending on their rank. Not every eligible executive uses their allowance, the company said.

The company, which makes Colgate toothpaste, Softsoap and Ajax cleaner, said it is cutting 12 percent of its work force and closing one-third of its factories to improve profits by reducing manufacturing.

Colgate had $9.9 billion in sales last year and paid its top five executives $23.3 million in cash and stock, plus another $9.1 million in stock options. The company's highest paid executive, chairman and CEO Reuben Mark, made $10.4 million in salary, bonus and stock awards.

Some other expenses covered by the "Above and Beyond" plan, according to the SEC filing:

Equipment and special clothes for fishing, boating, hiking, golf, running and yoga; music, golf, tennis and self-defense lessons; opera, ballet, museum, concert and sporting event tickets for the executive and the executive's immediate family; movie tickets and video purchases or rentals

Membership for tennis, swimming, racquetball clubs or local YMCA-YWCAs and fitness cen-ters. The company will also pay locker fees, court rentals and personal trainer fees.

Housekeeping, house painting, snow removal, swimming pool care, landscaping, gutter cleaning and chimney-sweeping bills are covered because "routine household chores can consume precious personal and family time," according to the filing.

"To recognize the long hours spent in the office required by the responsibilities of your position," the plan covers personally selected artwork and desk accessories for the office, but executives must insure the purchases themselves.

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