Skin in the Game

New Pacific Century Financial chief executive Michael E. O'Neill, who wowed investors by buying $10 million worth of shares in the company soon after he came aboard in November, is requiring senior managers to follow his lead.

At a presentation in New York Monday, Mr. O'Neill said he would require his top managers - president Richard Dahl and the seven vice chairmen on the Honolulu company's management committee - to own stakes equal to 2.5 times their salary.

"I don't mean options and other freebies, but I mean ownership of stock," he said.

Requirements would be tiered for less senior managers - executive vice presidents would be asked to own stakes worth 1.5 times their pay, for instance. In addition, Mr. O'Neill said, he would' ask the board to award every full-time employee restricted stock grants.

The mandate will require nothing of two of the bank's eight senior managers. Take Mr. Dahl. According to the bank's latest proxy, his stake in the company already amounted to nearly seven times his 2000 salary. And Alton Kuioka, vice chairman in charge of commercial banking, owned 89,430 shares at Dec. 31, or 5.64 times his 2000 salary, based on Monday's share price.

"For six out of the eight, it's a meaningful goal and an important message for them," said Neal Hocklander, vice chairman of human resources at Pacific Century. He said that four members of the management committee, including himself, have been there a year or less and are "starting from almost zero. For us, it's very material."

Dimon Delays

James Dimon, chief executive officer of Bank One Corp., is buying more time before holding the company's annual meeting with investors and analysts.

The confab had been scheduled for May in the bank's Chicago headquarters, but during his first-quarter earnings conference call Mr. Dimon canceled the daylong meeting. Instead, he promised to meet with investors and Wall Street observers after second-quarter earnings are released in July.

The rescheduled meeting is to be held in New York, and it doesn't sound like an all-day affair. "We will come to New York and spend a couple of hours and have some of our senior executives make some presentations," Mr. Dimon said.

He attributed the change of plan to Bank One's new open-book policy and said financial disclosures have "substantially and materially increased" since he took over as CEO in April 2000. Presumably, in Mr. Dimon's view, the first-quarter earnings report has answered many of the investors' and analysts' questions, making the Chicago meeting superfluous.

Analysts were unfazed.

"They're busy, and they don't have a lot to show yet," said Steve Wharton of Loomis Sayles & Co. "Let's face it, there ain't much to report. I'm kind of glad he postponed it."

Grenade for McColl

Bank of America chief Hugh L. McColl Jr. was famous for awarding employees hand grenades made of crystal, so it was only fitting that when the 65-year-old former marine retired Wednesday he got one of his own.

At the annual shareholders' meeting, his successor, Ken Lewis, presented what he said would be the last of the awards - a football-sized crystal hand grenade that Mr. McColl could barely lift. As Mr. Lewis unveiled it on the stage in a packed theater, Mr. McColl appeared to blush.

And there was more blushing.

Thomas Storrs, chairman and chief executive of North Carolina National Bank from 1973 to 1983, when Mr. McColl was still a young executive, read a tribute that called him "indisputably one of the great bankers of the 20th century, standing tall among the giants that may be counted on one's fingers."

Mr. McColl said that he would miss his colleagues but that he was eager to get away. Asked about his retirement plans during a session with reporters, he said, "I feel like, hey, I just finished a 42-year prison sentence. I'm gonna do what I want to do."

Sorry, Folks

When somebody let the cat out of the bag about their proposed merger with First Union Corp., Wachovia Corp. executives were steaming.

The news was all over the Internet by the night of Sunday, April 15, so many employees had heard or read about the deal before they got to work Monday. Wachovia apologized to them last week through an internal newsletter, saying that it had hoped to tell them the news Monday morning as the merger announcement hit the news wires.

"It was an unfortunate circumstance. [Chief executive] Bud Baker was emphatic that employees deserved to hear the news from Wachovia first," media relations manager Ed Hutchins explained in the newsletter. It said the two companies had developed an elaborate plan to announce the merger internally, including e-mail, meetings, and other channels. But the planning went for naught.

Lights Out at B of A

Bank of America Corp. plans to turn off 200 of its outdoor signs in the Pacific Northwest in an effort to save energy.

Pylon signs, which are lighted from within and posted on poles, will be unplugged during the next three to five weeks, starting in the metropolitan areas of Seattle and Spokane, Wash., and Portland, Ore.

This isn't the first time the Charlotte, N.C., company has turned out its lights on the West Coast. In late January the company cut electricity to several landmark signs in its former headquarters city of San Francisco, including those on the clock tower overlooking the Bay Bridge and on its downtown skyscraper.

B of A signs in Los Angeles and San Diego were also turned off to cope with California's electricity shortage. Signs on branches that are part of larger complexes, such as strip malls, won't be darkened because leases typically prohibit it.

Bank of America expects to save 300,000 kilowatt hours a year in the Pacific Northwest, the equivalent of energy used in 200 employee offices. "We may lose some advertising opportunities, but we believe conserving the Northwest's energy supplies is far more important," said John Rindlaub, president of Bank of America Northwest.

The Pacific Northwest has been hit by its own energy crunch: Low rainfall and the region's dependence on hydroelectric power generation have been made more dire by the California shortage, which will limit the Golden State's ability to send power north this summer.

Editor's Note: Look for "People" - a new column written and reported by American Banker's National/Global and Markets teams - on Fridays. "Washington People," reported out of our D.C. bureau, will continue to appear every Monday.

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