090208 Dick Bond To Advise Tyson Foods

February 4, 2009

Springdale, AR (The Morning News) -- When Dick Bond resigned abruptly as CEO of Tyson Foods Inc. on Jan. 5, industry analysts agreed the company was losing a talented manager. A recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicates that Bond won't be far away should the company call.

Bond signed a lucrative 10-year advisory contract worth more than $9.2 million, excluding stock options and other perquisites such as the use of corporate jets, a cell phone and a 2009 Mercedes-Benz, which is part of the compensation package, according to Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson.

The contract said the company could require Bond to provide up to 20 advisory hours per month, but he will not retain an office at the corporate headquarters in Springdale.

Tyson Foods agreed to pay Bond $757,620 annually for the next five years, and $378,810 for the remaining five years, in exchange for the possible advisory services. The contract also prohibits Bond from sharing trade secrets or going to work for competitors for 11 years.

Bond played a fairly high-risk game running this complicated company, said Tim Ramey, analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co.

As CEO, Bond earned an annual base salary of $1.26 million last year, with no performance bonus.

Ramey said the settlement appears to be the ultimate reward for his hard work in recent years, even if the company has chosen a different management approach.

Following Bond's departure, industry analysts surmised that the 61-year-old Bond had likely fallen out of favor with the Tyson family, particularly with the lackluster performance of the chicken segment. The Tyson family is the largest shareholder and controls the majority vote, through a dual class share system.

Bond had previously been applauded across the industry for his cost-cutting measures that returned the company's beef segment to profitability and the expansion into the biofuel arena with joint ventures with ConocoPhillips and Syntroleum.

When chicken went south and stayed there all year, Bond's days were likely numbered, according to Ann Gilpin, analyst with Morningstar. She said his unwillingness to cut chicken production was likely at odds with the direction the Tyson family wanted to take the company.

Ironically, most of the damage had already been done in the poultry segment. When Bond resigned, recovery was already underway as grain prices declined and production cuts across the industry were beginning to prop up chicken prices, according to Paul Aho, poultry economist with Poultry Perspective.

"I am not convinced the company is actually doing anything differently under the new management. I don't think they have yet found the leadership to take the company to the next big phase, whatever that is. It seems they are still resting on the laurels of the Don Tyson years," Ramey said.