Many, many Nortel retirees are in danger of losing their retirement benefits and severance payments as Nortel slowly slides into oblivion. Some of them would certainly face true financial hardships if this were to happen. Given the salary he has drawn over the last four years, former CEO Mike Zafirovski is probably not one of those vulnerable former employees. However, he is suing Nortel for his golden parachute.
Zafirovski was supposed to be the leader who turned around Nortel’s fortunes. Hired in 2005, he came on board with a five-year plan to help the Canadian tech giant rediscover its magic touch. He had some good tools to work with: a huge and loyal install base, good engineering talent, a strong brand name.
But fortune didn’t smile on the Zafirovski era. Nortel muddled along for three years. Then the economy took a nosedive and Nortel went bankrupt. Now rival companies are circling the Nortel carcass, biting off chunks of the business for $1 billion here and $500 million there. Zafirovski parted ways with Nortel in August. He left the company in such a state that it no longer even needs a CEO. The board of directors is letting the financial executives handle the final bloodletting and breakup of the once proud company.
Zafirovski is fighting to make sure he gets compensated for his leadership. According to the Ottawa Citizen, he is seeking more than $12 million worth of bonuses, pension payouts and severance. Just a few months ago, he was fending off such lawsuits from former Nortel employees. Now he’s in line with the rest of them.