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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

The Tragedie of Home Depot

DUNCAN Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not Those in commission yet return’d?

MALCOM My liege, They are not yet come back. But I have spoke With one that saw him die; who did report That very frankly he confess’d his treasons, Implored your highness’ pardon and set forth A deep repentance: nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it… —William Shakespeare

So Shakespeare describes the death of Cawdor in The Tragedie of Macbeth, a play whose title character engaged in what some might regard as only a slightly more aggressive form of corporate ladder-climbing than modern investors have seen from the likes of Dennis Kozlowski, Jeff Skilling and Bob Nardelli.


Which is to say Macbeth actually physically murdered his enemies, with knives and stuff, instead of killing them off through other, bloodless means.What Malcom famously says of Cawdor—that “nothing in his life became him like the leaving it”—cannot, however, be said of Bob Nardelli, if the Wall Street Journal’s excellent account of his recent leaving of Home Depot is even halfway accurate:

Mr. Nardelli submitted a one-page list of perks he was willing to drop, including personal use of the six corporate jets, according to one person involved in the matter. But he dug in his heels about his guaranteed $3 million annual bonus and his hefty supplemental pension arrangement. Were Shakespeare alive to rework Macbeth in a more modern corporate setting, where the price of utter failure is no longer death by sword but rather, using Ovitz, Grasso and Nardelli as the new benchmark, a $200 million severance package, that key scene might look a little different than Shakespeare wrote it…

DUNCAN, Board Chairman Did we fire his sorry you-know-what yet?

MALCOLM, Lead Director Well, sir, Not exactly. The lawyers say he has us by the you-know-whats.

DUNCAN But he’s an idiot! He almost destroyed our franchise With that stupid Six Sigma crap… (Pouring a scotch although it is only 10 a.m.) I’d like to Six Sigma his sorry you-know-what…

MALCOM Sir, there’s no time for that. We need a decision.

DUNCAN What is it this time?

MALCOM He wants the corporate jets.

DUNCAN He wants to use the jets??? Son of a… (Downing the scotch and exhaling slowly.) What for—he can’t fly home to Nantucket on Delta?

MALCOM I think he actually lives on St. John’s Island, sir.

DUNCAN Whatever. (Pouring another scotch.) You want one?

MALCOM No thank you, sir. We need a decision, sir.

DUNCAN (Stirs ice with fingers reflecting on something.) He looked so good on paper. Number two at GE! MBA! Football player! What the hell went wrong?MALCOM Sir, our lawyers need an answer.

DUNCAN About what? MALCOM About the jets.

DUNCAN Oh, right. (Tasting the scotch.) Well, we have three freaking jets, right?MALCOM Six, sir. DUNCAN Six? Jesus. Well, see if one of ’em is free. Tell the pilot to take that S.O.B.’s sorry Six Sigma you-know-what wherever it has to go. And good riddance.

MALCOM Sir, you don’t understand. He wants the jets. DUNCAN He wants the freaking jets????

MALCOM Yes Sir. All six of them.

DUNCAN (Shouting.) Tell him to go pound sand! Tell him to go pound Six Sigma sand! Tell him I’m sure a Six Sigma guy like him Can pound sand better than anybody else ever pounded sand! Tell him I said that!!!!

MALCOM Sir, it’s in the contract.

DUNCAN What contract?MALCOM The one you signed when we hired him. If he gets fired for cause, he gets the corporate jets.

DUNCAN (Pouring another scotch.) I hate this job. End of Act I

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2007 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author. In memory of Jack Woodward.

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