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Divorce duel reveals Welch's perks
Court filings made by Jane Welch describe benefits GE continues to provide for its former CEO.
September 6, 2002: 4:13 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Divorce papers filed by the wife of Jack Welch Jr., the former CEO of General Electric, allege that GE covered living costs for the couple while he was working for the company and will continue to cover him for the rest of his life -- disclosures the firm never alluded to, an attorney for Jane Welch confirmed with CNNfn on Friday.

GE (GE: up $0.30 to $28.30, Research, Estimates) reported that it would keep Welch on as a consultant at $86,000 a year following his retirement in 2001, including "lifetime access to company facilities and services comparable to those which are currently made available to him by the company" and those benefits are "unconditional and irrevocable," according to a New York Times report, citing the company's 2001 proxy statement.

Former GE Chief Executive Jack Welch  
Former GE Chief Executive Jack Welch

The divorce papers filed by Jane Welch detail her husband's use of an $80,000 per month Manhattan apartment owned by the company, court-side seats to the New York Knicks and U.S. Open, seating at Wimbledon, box seats at Red Sox and Yankees baseball games, country club fees, security services and restaurant bills, according to the Times.

Welch released a statement Friday, saying "I never expected my divorce to be entirely private, although I had hoped for that...GE put a succession plan in place that included a contract with me, described the succession plan in the media, disclosed the contract as required, and the plan has worked to the benefit of all constituencies. A one-sided filing by one party in a contested divorce does not change these facts."

In her filing, Jane Welch describes $126,820 per month in living costs, but states she is unable to put a value on the items covered by the GE perks or how much Jack Welch may contribute to those, the Times reported.

For an example, she provided an assessment of the use of GE's Boeing 737 jet, which is valued at $291,869 per month, or $3.5 million a year, according to the Times.

One corporate governance expert called the compensation too generous.

"There is really no justification to pay for any living or traveling expenses at that level, particularly now that he is in retirement," Nell Minow, the editor of The Corporate Library, told the paper.

The couple separated after it was reported he was in a relationship with Suzy Wetlaufer, the former editor of the Harvard Business Review. The Welches' prenuptial agreement, which provided some protection to his $900 million fortune, expired two years ago.

GE released a statement Friday saying its employment agreement with Welch, which listed "company aircraft, cars, office, apartments, and financial planning services," has been publicly available for six years on the Securities and Exchange Commission's Web site.

GE said that the market value of GE increased by "hundreds of billions of dollars" during Welch's tenure.

Gary Sheffer, a spokesman for GE, questioned the listing of sporting event tickets as a Welch perk.

"Jack does not own seats to the Knicks and Yankees," he told CNNfn. "GE has tickets to sporting events we use for business purposes. The tickets are used by a variety of people in the company and they are not exclusive to Jack."  Top of page

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