A look at some who lost and some who won in business in 2001:
ON THE DOWNSIDE
At the onset of 2001, thousands of Enron Corp. workers were working for one of the world's largest companies, content with retirement plans that featured thick, valuable shares of company stock. By the end of the year ,those fortunes had burned up like natural gas flowing through a stovetop burner. The company's stock fell from $85 to as low as 25 cents a share and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Company biggies like chairman and chief executive Kenneth Lay will likely walk way with bonuses and more paychecks, but the company's 4,200 laid-off workers are left with little more than memories and resumes to write.
One of two women CEOs at a Fortune 500 company (the other is Avon's Andrea Jung), Fiorina tried to shepherd Hewlett Packard Co. into a $22.4 billion merger with Compaq Computer Corp. The deal, which faces scrutiny from federal regulators, is looking increasingly shaky because of a near-revolt from shareholders, including the families of founders William Hewlett and David Packard, who want it nixed.
The former CEO of the airport security firm that bears his name, Argenbright was removed from his job after lapses in security at airports around the country made people feel about as safe as a deer in Ted Nugent's backyard. After several lapses, including one where a man was able to board a plane at Chicago's O'Hare airport with knives, a stun gun and tear gas, Argenbright was replaced.
The former chairman and CEO of United Airlines, Goodwin was ousted in October after 2 1/2 years at the helm, when he said the airline was hemorrhaging cash and could "perish" after revenue and the number of passengers plummeted this fall. The company's board of directors hoped to stem the bleeding with an interim replacement, board member John Creighton, who is the retired head of Weyerhaeuser Corp. and has no prior experience running an airline,
Linda Wachner was warned by Warnaco Group Inc., which she helped build into a major apparel empire, but after several licensing deals failed to lift the company's bottom line, the feisty chairwoman and CEO found out that unemployment definitely came between her and her Calvin Kleins. After 15 years of marketing Speedos, Olga bras and Calvin Klein clothes, she was given the boot with no severance package.
It's the economy, or so went the political mantra in 1992. Now, nearly 10 years later, it's the same issue. But Greenspan, viewed by many as the only man who could keep the econom up and running, found out the hard way that 11 rate cuts in one year do not necessarily a robust economy make. Greenspan's words have the power to move markets, but not quite in the same direction as they used to.
ON THE UPSIDE
Admired in Europe and feared everywhere else, Monti is the immovable object to U.S. business' unstoppable juggernaut. No nonsense in his manners and precise in his execution, Monti didn't hesitate to put the kibosh on the $41 billion merger between General Electric Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. Monti pulled no punches even after the U.S. government dropped its concerns over Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust tribulations. He informed the software maker that he still had some questions.
You've got ... the path to the CEO's office at AOL Time Warner. After Gerald Levin said he'd step down, Parsons was tapped to take the affable cable legend's place. For Parsons, widely regarded as a consensus builder, it's a historic call as he becomes part of a short list of black CEOs in the U.S.
He may have lost billions in the great tech devaluation of 2000, but Bill Gates rebounded in 2001, thanks in part to a federal government keen on ending its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. And it certainly didn't hurt that the company's Xbox game console was unveiled, shipping more than 1.1 million units in the last two months of the year, providing gamers with an intense trifecta of video gaming power along with Nintendo's GameCube and Sony's PlayStation 2.
He swiped Rupert Murdoch's bride at the altar when his EchoStar Communications Corp. emerged the winner for Hughes Electronic Corp.'s DirecTV with a $25.8 billion bid. But the hot-tempered Tennessee dealmaker faces a lot of static as he tries to convince federal regulators that combining the Dish Network with DirecTV will benefit satellite-TV subscribers.
He has the inside track to be the next chairman of one of Wall Street's most famous names. He was named president and chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch and Chairman and CEO David H. Komanksy plans to recommend O'Neal for the top spot in 2004. Already the highest-ranking black executive at a Wall Street firm, his star is expected to shine even brighter.
By Matt Moore
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