Angelo Mozilo started in the mortgage business as a delivery boy and built Countrywide Financial into the largest home lender in the land. He’s never been shy about compensating himself well.
Today’s Los Angeles Times has an article about how he’ll be paid $10 million over the next three years, the amount he would have made as a pension in retirement, because he decided to stay on at the company a little longer. That’s $10 million on top of his regular high pay, double dipping if you will and shocking at a time when the company is laying off 2,500 people. But Mozilo at least delivers something to shareholders. Yesterday, despite the fact that the company reported earnings that were down 40%, worse than analysts had expected—Mozilo also announced a $2 billion share repurchase program, the first in the company’s 37-year history. Mozilo candidly told investors Countrywide would be “treading water” in 2007, but indicated he thought the worst was over for the housing bust. Wall Street applauded his straightforwardness and Countrywide’s stock jumped 6%.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.