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The Most Outrageous Acts of Corporate America: Footnoted.com

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It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Footnoted.com scours through Securities and Exchange Commission filings to ferret out interesting tidbits on life in corporate America. In the accompanying video, Michelle Leder and I discuss some of the most interesting recent findings.

Life's a Beach. Sometimes, a good bargain on a great Maine beach resort is simply too good to pass up. That's the conclusion AthenaHealth (ATHN), a Watertown, Mass.-based company that is big on cloud-based solutions for medical practices, recently reached. It shelled out $7.7 million to buy Point Lookout, a 396-acre waterfront property with 106 cabins once listed as Luxist's Estate of the Day. A company spokesperson noted that the acquisition, while "not intuitive, it is an asset for the company that it can use for conferences and a repertoire of events." In other words, rather than continue to rent it out for company events, AthenaHealth just decided to buy the whole shebang. Fortunately, shareholders didn't have to pay top dollar. The property last changed hands five years ago for $12 million.

All in the Family. It's good to be related to apparel baron Ralph Lauren. The most recent preliminary proxy shows that the CEO of the eponymous company (RL) is quite generous when it comes to including kith and kin in the bounty produced by all those chinos and short-sleeved shirts. In fiscal 2011, Ralph's brother, Jerome, executive vice president of Menswear Design, got a base salary, bonus, and other compensation worth more than $2.155 million, plus stock awards valued at more than $391,000. Oh, and it gave him a car worth $67,500 to boot. (Jerome had to pay taxes on the value of the vehicle.) Meanwhile, Ralph's son, David, executive vice president of Global Advertising, Marketing and Communications (and one-time editor of the 1990s magazine Swing) was allotted a $1.168 million in salary bonus and other compensation, plus stock awards worth more than $391,000. Ralph Lauren could be in a generous mood, in part because his fiscal year 2011 compensation totaled more than $29.7 million.

No Executive Left Behind.
Mindful of the need to be closer to its core customer — the Pentagon -- defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NOC) is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington, D.C. suburb of Falls Church, Virginia. Naturally, shareholders are helping to pay for the move. The standard relocation package for top executives includes the usual assistance plus "a loss on sale assistance for employees who own their home, capped at $250,000." (Translation: if you have a pre-bust $1 million mortgage on a house now valued at post-bust $750,000, the company will make you whole when you sell.) But, according to a recent filing CFO James F. Palmer is getting a check for $750,000 to help facilitate the move, which, as Footnoted.com notes, come out to $280.16 per mile for the 2,677-mile move . As for CEO Wes Bush, his new home in Virginia got "enhancements … deemed necessary by the Company for his security" worth a cool $1.6 milllion.

Apple to Go. Forget the gold watch, or the golden parachute. When executives leave their gilded posts, they frequently ask for. . . . .an iPad. Brian McDonald, chief financial officer of Advanced Analogic Technologies (AATI), a tiny semiconductor company in Santa Clara, California, left the company in the spring. The Separation Agreement and Release gives McDonald $392,333 in cash as severance, a partial bonus, and some funds to cover accounting and legal costs. Oh, and it also bought him some gadgets: "The Company agrees to give Executive a new laptop computer, cellular phone, and iPad purchased by the Company, with the express understanding that Executive will promptly return the laptop computer, cellular phone, and iPad that are currently in Executive's possession." Footnoted.com has documented several other companies that have included iPads as part of the parting package for senior executives. Couldn't they just make things simpler and give out Apple gift cards?

Daniel Gross is economics editor and columnist at Yahoo! Finance

Email him at grossdaniel11@yahoo.com; follow him on Twitter @grossdm

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