Court OKs Winn-Dixie C.E.O.'s Retention Payment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Judge Jerry Funk of the U.S. Middle District of Florida bankruptcy court yesterday approved a plan to pay Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. c.e.o. Peter Lynch $1.15 million for staying with the reorganizing company through Aug. 31, according to press reports.

The payment is in addition to Lynch's $900,000 salary and other bonuses and stock options Lynch would be required to pay back the $1.5 million if he were fired before stated state or left without a sufficient reason.

Winn-Dixie attorney Stephen Busey noted that Lynch was "the captain of the ship," undertaking cost-cutting measures and closing down stores to lift the grocer out of bankruptcy, and added that the board of directors was concerned that he might be lured away by another company. Retirees of the company, who argued that there was no guarantee that the company would emerge from bankruptcy by Aug. 31, unsuccessfully sought to extend the payment period to the end of December, and to make the payment directly incumbent upon Lynch's ability to revive the ailing company's fortunes.

The plan represents a compromise between Winn-Dixie's creditors, who had wanted a June 31 retention date and a payment of $1 million, and Winn-Dixie, which had originally asked for $2 million. Last year the court approved a similar plan for a $1.5 million retention payment for Lynch if he remained at the retailer through the end of 2005.
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