Further details of Steve Heyer’s fall from grace at Starwood Hotels are beginning to emerge, including possible reasons why he has walked away from a possible $35m severance package.
Accusations are flying that Heyer was forced due to inappropriate emails to female staff members at Starwood: whether these prove to have a solid foundation or not, there are almost certainly other reasons why board members wanted him out that are based more on business and internal politics.
Heyer has decided to turn his back on the issue and walk away rather than become embroiled in a bitter legal dispute. This is good news for Starwood, which would want to avoid a high profile tussle while it remains a potential target for private equity.
Overall, however, the incident is bad news in terms of attracting capable talent into leadership roles within public companies. Senior executives are under fire from all sides for their remuneration packages and overall conduct.
Their private equity rivals, meanwhile, are typically paid more and can enjoy their wealth largely outside of the public spotlight and hence public criticism.
There will, however, still be plenty of candidates to take on the CEO role. Some individuals simply enjoy being in the public gaze. And, while there is perhaps more cash in private equity, the money is not too bad.
This has been made clear in the past week or so when it was revealed that Henry Silverman, the former CEO of Cendant, the company from which Wyndham was spun-out, is set to pocket severance pay of $110m.