Federated CEO downplays tiff with Questrom

Sunday, May 10, 1998

Both camps have been quiet since former Federated Department Stores CEO Allen Questrom sued the retailer in January, saying it owes him $47 million under his five-year employment contract. But that doesn't mean that the former chief and his successor aren't on speaking terms.

Last week, Chairman and CEO James Zimmerman spoke briefly about the issue, if only to play it down.

"It's having no impact on the company," he said. "The amount of money is not significant; time consumption is literally non-existent." The crux of the complaint is the valuation process that Federated used to set Mr. Questrom's incentive compensation. Mr. Zimmerman, calling it a "highly technical issue," said Federated's board argues that it calculated correctly. If the court decides otherwise, Mr. Questrom will get more money.

"It is not an emotional issue," he said. "He and I are still close. It's too bad, because some have not felt good about it. But it's not a big deal."

- Lisa Biank Fasig

Anchorwoman drops quips

Norma Rashid was gracious and a bit graceless last week as emcee of the YWCA's annual Career Women of Achievement luncheon.

Groans of disapproval came from the audience on several occasions after the Channel 5 anchorwoman's trite comments about some of the eight recipients.

For example, Ms. Rashid told Cincinnati Police Captain Cindy M. Johns, an award winner, to "remember me when I'm speeding down 75."

After S. Kay Geiger, an executive vice president at Star Banc Corp., received her award plaque, Ms. Rashid told her to "stick around. I might need you to help me balance my checkbook."

Perhaps Ms. Rashid's worst misstep came at the expense of U.S. Attorney Sharon Zealey. During a short video presentation, Ms. Zealey talked about her high expectations for young law interns. Ms. Rashid followed up by making a reference to President Clinton's alleged affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

". . No truth to the rumor that she interned under President Clinton," Ms. Rashid said as Ms. Zealey returned to her seat.

Ms. Rashid seemed to realize the faux pas and ceased her running commentary as the rest of the recipients collected their plaques.

- Ursula Miller

"Ladies' whistle-blower a local

Wouldn't you know that there's a Cincinnati connection to recent revelations about the Beardstown Ladies miscalculating their investment club's returns.

Shane Tritsch, author of the Chicago magazine article that debunked the club's otherwise eye-poping results, hails from Cincinnati and is a graduate of Mariemont High School. His father, Robert Tritsch, called earlier this spring to report that piece of Tristate trivia.

Shane Tritsch's article in March sent shock waves, with tens of thousands of investment club enthusiasts bemoaning the reality of it all. The Beardstown Ladies caught the media and Wall Street's attention precisely because their returns -- prominently displayed on the covers of their hot-selling books -- beat market averages and many an investment pro.

The Ladies are credited with sparking a resurgence in investment clubs, which number more than 33,000 nationally today.

As for Shane Tritsch, he told the Wall Street Journal that he interviewed the club last fall with the intention of writing a "nice story, just like everyone else has.

"I feel bad about beating up on these very nice women, but if they'd calculated their returns correctly, there would never have been a book."

- Ursula Miller

Long hours, short stick

Some executives who put in long, long hours in hopes of getting a promotion might find that they're wasting their time, according to Exec-U-Net, a company that helps executives find new jobs.

In a recent survey, Exec-U-Net said it found that setting up networks of contacts both inside and outside a company is the most important thing an aspiring executive can do. The survey of more than 1,000 executives, search firms and corporate hiring officers said another way to get ahead is to be sure to seek out assignments that are important to the boss.

- The Associated Press

Items for Tipsheet are gathered by Enquirer business reporters.

Business Headlines for Sunday, May 10, 1998

Federated's seamless transition
Ford motored into Cincinnati long ago
Software firm owners learning hard lessons of managing growth