BONEPARTH’S ISSUE WITH THE TIMES

Byline: Kristin Larson

NEW YORK — Apparently, the New York Times isn’t the paper of record for Peter Boneparth, president of Jones Apparel Group — at least not this week.
Boneparth has taken issue with a Times article headlined “Pushing The Pay Envelope Too Far,” which appeared on page one of Sunday’s Money & Business section. The article said that as the new president of Jones, Boneparth will receive $2 million in signing bonuses spread over two years and options this year on three million shares — on top of his salary of $1.5 million, which rises to $2.5 million in 2004.
Responding to this, Boneparth promptly sent an e-mail to all Jones employees at about 8:30 a.m. Monday, a copy of which was shared with WWD.
“The gross distortion of the truth in that article compels me to share some thoughts with you…it is critically important to the ongoing success of this organization that I develop a level of trust with all of you, and it is for this reason more than any other that I want to respond to yesterday’s editorial.”
While not disputing the salary reported in the article, Boneparth wrote, “Any references made to a $35 million package and a $10 million guarantee are patently false. Other than my salary, I only benefit if the stock price appreciates over time.”
Boneparth also disputed the $2 million signing bonus referred to in the article and said: “The $2 million paid to me in that case is a direct result of compensation owed in connection with the company’s acquisition of the McNaughton Apparel Group in July of last year. It has absolutely nothing to do with my responsibilities as president and ceo-elect of the Jones Apparel Group.”
Finally, Boneparth said: “The suggestion that I am ‘befriending the important people on the board’ is ludicrous and an insult to the integrity of our outside board members. In connection with this agreement, the board specifically retained one of the leading outside independent companies on executive compensation. This is a fact that the reporter was aware of, but obviously chose to conveniently ignore.”
Meanwhile, Gretchen Morgenson, who authored the Times piece, said Tuesday she stood by her story, adding that she had not heard from Jones and was not aware of any issues the company had taken with her report.
Anita Britt, senior vice president of finance and investor relations, said as an incoming ceo, “Peter wanted to correct some inaccuracies that appeared in the article+He wanted to be straightforward with all the employees at Jones.”

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