Thursday, February 26, 2009

Banker shares his bonus

Leonard Abess Jr is a banker who, when faced with a $60 million payout, went against type. He shared it all out amongst the bank's employees. And former employees. To 471 people all told, for an average of $127,000 each.

Digging deeper into the story, it's even more interesting, with a few unexpected twists.

Abess' father started the bank in 1946. Abess Jr started out in the print shop, and worked his way up. The bank was sold in the 1980's, but eventually got bought by a businessman who was convicted of fraud, and the bank fell into bankruptcy. Abess Jr then bought out the bank for $27 million, most of it borrowed. He built it back up to a profitable level, and didn't require any federal bailout funds. When he sold the bank for $927 million, he shared his $60m profit amongst current and former employees. "I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."

He didn't publicise this himself either, and apparently hasn't been returning media calls.

One of the beneficiaries was a retiree who started at the bank as janitor, and worked his way up to vice president. Not something that might easily happen these days.

Abess was lauded in Obama's recent speech to congress. More reports here and here.

Answer to yesterday's puzzle: ebullient.

No comments: