If you're going to recruit Target Corp.'s executive vice president/chief marketing officer as your next president, you better pony up some serious cash.

Which, of course, is what J.C. Penney Co. Inc. did. The retailer will pay Michael Francis an annual base salary of $1.2 million, one million shares of restricted stock, and a tidy $12 million signing bonus, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.



That's a significant raise from the $870,000 annual salary Francis earned at Target though Francis ultimately took home $4.6 million last year, including $1.9 million from exercise of stock options.

But look a little closer and you will J.C. Penney threw in a few other perks, most notably "up to $14,630 as a first-year fee and up to $10,125 annually for each succeeding year to cover the financial counseling firm's fees."

(The retailer also offered Francis up to $3,000 for an annual health exam. $3,000? That must be one hell of a health exam. Mine consisted of a 15 minute check-up at HealthPartners by a doctor with an indiscernible accent.)

Now call me old fashioned but I think it's reasonable to assume that a guy who will pocket a $12 million signing bonus can afford his own financial counseling. But then again, logic has never really applied to executive compensation.

Some executive compensation experts have argued such perks allow executives to focus on their jobs without worrying about their personal finances.

I'm not buying it. I'm sure Francis can walk and chew gum at the same time. And if he can't....well, that's a different story.

NFL teams might offer financial counseling to its players. There are plenty of stories of athletes who squander their money.

But Francis is a businessman, a highly touted, experienced executive at the top of his game. It seems odd that J.C. Penney would subsidize the financial counseling of a man chosen in large part  to safeguard shareholder value.

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