By  on December 26, 2007

Neiman Marcus Group Inc. chief executive Burton M. Tansky, who always bristles at the notion of retiring and turns 70 next month, has renewed his contract for another two years. The contract was set to expire in October 2008 but has been extended to October 2010. Tansky declined to comment on the contract. He has been at the helm of the Dallas-based chain since the early Nineties and has kept the business focused on luxury and profitability. A Securities and Exchange Commission filing, which disclosed the contract renewal, lists Tansky's base salary at $1.3 million. The agreement also provides that the employment will automatically be extended for one-year periods after the term of the agreement expires unless, at least six months prior to the commencement of any one period, Tansky or the board decides it's time for him to retire. Tansky also serves as chairman and president of the corporation. Last October, the Neiman Marcus Group formed an office of the chairman, throwing the spotlight on two veteran officials, Karen Katz and James Skinner, as leading contenders to one day succeed Tansky. Katz is president and ceo of the Neiman Marcus Stores division and, as part of the chairman's office, she has the additional role of executive vice president of the group, entailing responsibilities for strategy, business development and marketing. Skinner, senior vice president and chief financial officer, is included in the office of the chairman as well and is also executive vice president and chief financial officer of the group, with responsibility for information services. The agreement calls for Tansky to work with "reasonable diligence" to identify a ceo successor, though the board can still undertake its own search. There has been widespread speculation that NMG, which Texas Pacific and Warburg Pincus bought in 2005 for $5.1 billion, could go public early next year via an initial public offering. The $4.4 billion company has been on a roll for years, and the luxury sector is generally holding up despite the nation's economic uncertainties stemming from the housing slump, credit crunch and rising fuel costs. The stock market and Wall Street bonuses have also abetted luxury sales, but both are shakier now. Still, Neiman's has been able to weather both good and bad economic times under the direction of Tansky, and his contract extension would give him time to guide Neiman's through an IPO.

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