On esoteric favours and public companies

It seems pretty simple to me: if you do not want to have to deal with pesky shareholders and all of their questioning your personal use of the company’s private jet and New York condo, take “your company” private. Then you can fill your boots on the company account as much as you want because it is your company. You just cannot have it both ways, taking the money from shareholders (liquid cash in exchange for giving up some of the ownership), and still expect to be the king.

Whether found guilty or not, the basic notion that others who have financial interests in a company ought to have a say in the affairs of that company seems to be a recurring theme of the Black trial. The US authorities certainly seem to see this as a legitimate claim. Yet, this audacity on the part of shareholders has been matched with equal vigor by Black’s unabiding sense of entitlement, and his and Babs’ presumption that they are better than everyone else, except those with even greater status and wealth, like The Donald.

So in comes Donald to shill for Conrad and his shareholder problem. Now, if Trump was an actual shareholder, do you think he would have said “you’re fired”?

‘Dear Donald, Could I ask a rather esoteric favor? …’

From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

CHICAGO — When Conrad Black needed someone to help fend off a group of angry shareholders in 2003, he turned to a professional: Donald Trump.

At the time, Lord Black was facing a revolt by investors in Hollinger International Inc., who were complaining about his compensation and use of the company’s jet. Many investors were geared up for Hollinger’s annual meeting in New York on May 22, 2003, where they planned to push for an investigation. Two days earlier, Lord Black sent Mr. Trump a note asking him to show up and say a few kind words.

“Dear Donald,” Lord Black wrote. “Could I ask a rather esoteric favor?” He explained that the company’s annual meeting was coming up and added: “Some of the institutions have been conducting an insurrection and I will forcefully rebut them on that occasion. They have undoubtedly tried to pack the room with complainants … If you were able to put in a cameo appearance and say a supportive word, I’m sure it would have an impact on the group and be favorably noted in the press. I realize you’re a busy man and have other things to do, but it could be a lively session.”

Lord Black ended the letter: “Best wishes, CONRAD.”

… Unfortunately for Lord Black, Mr. Trump’s appearance didn’t quell the shareholder revolt. Many investors continued peppering him with difficult questions during the meeting and the company’s board of directors agreed to set up a special committee to review the complaints.

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