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Front Desk

Updates: Fairmont, Ledsinger

̢ۢ As expected, the Fairmont Hotels board of directors yesterday rejected Carl Icahn's $40-a-share bid for the company (see The Front Desk, Dec. 9). Corporate raider Icahn owns five percent of the 80-hotel chain and wants to acquire a controlling stake in order to either deal the company to another hotel chain or sell off the underlying real estate.

The surprise came with the rumors that other suitors may make competing bids for the Toronto-based firm. Leading contender seems to be the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, although one media report says ubiquitous investor Prince al-Waleed from Saudi Arabia could be another potential white knight.

̢ۢ Choice's Chuck Ledsinger got rewarded earlier this week (The Front Desk, Dec. 21) with a four-year extension of his contract to lead the franchising chain. An SEC filing released yesterday disclosed financial terms of the deal: Ledsinger will get a base annual salary of $720,000, subject to annual reviews by the Choice board, plus a "targeted cash bonus" that could equal his base salary. He's also eligible for annual stock awards, and as signing bonus he receives a grant of 51,727 shares of stock (How did they come up with that number?) that vest over four years. The sole downside is a non-compete clause that's in effect for two years following Ledsinger's departure from the company.

It's a substantial and well-deserved package for Ledsinger, but it's certainly not excessive in comparison to pay packages of other contemporary corporate leaders in and out of the lodging industry.

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