This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 16, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, Dennis Kozlowski's $15,000 umbrella stand did put the spotlight on excessive CEO perks. Now the SEC voting today to force companies to disclose all compensation above $10,000 given to top executives. But will the changes do more harm than good?
You may recall, as a legendary tenure as the head of GE, Jack Welch gave back millions of dollars in retirement perks, after the company was criticizes for not disclosing those perks.
How does he feel about these new rules? We decided to ask him, Jack Welch in Boston.
JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: Hi, Neil. How are you?
What do you make of these new rules?
WELCH: Well, look, Neil, there are two things about regulations, I always say.
One is, you don't like them at all until you go to a country that doesn't have them, Russia and China. And, secondly, you want clarity. So, from my standpoint, and I think from most CEO standpoint, getting these 1992 rules clarified will be good news.
CAVUTO: All right. Now, if we had, when the revelations came in your prior divorce settlement to light, then what we do now, what would we have found out?
WELCH: You probably would have found out that we sent my contract to the SEC.
And it had airplanes, apartments, financial counseling, and all that. But it didn't have things like tickets to a ball game. And it didn't have the financial value precisely. It said about $1 million. And, so, in my case, you would get that I had tickets to ball games, if I wanted to use them, like other employees use them.
And the value would have been stated more clearly of the list of perks. But it wouldn't have been much. In our case, we had the best lawyers in the world submitting their stuff. And, then, I, of course, had a very public divorce that created a little furor in the middle of the Enron thing.
WELCH: The SEC clarified it with us. And we got a cease and desist order, which meant, going forward, GE had to be sure they disclosed every detail.
CAVUTO: Your former wife had pretty good lawyers, too. But I digress.
WELCH: She had very good lawyers.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Jack, though, about this trend to try to put all this out there.
You are for that, then?
CAVUTO: In other words, if all this is out there, if there is a dollar value attached to your Boston Red Sox games — I can't imagine there would be a dollar value to going to a Boston Red Sox game.
WELCH: Get out of here.
CAVUTO: But I guess there is.
CAVUTO: But, in other words, that, then, that would be advantageous and all the questions would be removed, right?
I think, though, the people that are driving for this, unfortunately, are not going to get repeal of the free market, Neil. Great CEOs are still going to be sought after. And they're going to get paid very large sums of money.
And if people think disclosure is going to cap CEO pay, I think they are going to be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, I think they are going to see any cases of egregious behavior where CEOs are paid exorbitant amounts and there is no performance.
CAVUTO: All right.
Now, when they have Dennis Kozlowski's examples and some of the others, they start saying, there is something is out of whack here. But there was a time, Jack, where Kozlowski seemed to be performing. Tyco's shareholders seemed to be richly rewarded. So, how do you know?
WELCH: Well, you know, it is a tough thing.
But, you look at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) or 3M (MMM). 3M gets Jim McNerney. The stock practically doubles.
WELCH: Hewlett-Packard have been bumping along for a long time. And they hired this fellow named Hurd. I don't know him. But he has taken the stock up some 50 percent.
So, in fact, CEOs that do deliver do reward shareholders handsomely.
Any bitterness, looking back, at your whole experience back then, Jack?
WELCH: Not at all. I had the greatest experience in the world.
And look, I fell in love with a woman and created a little bump in the road. But that is long behind me.
He and Suzy author of the best-seller "Winning."
Jack Welch, in Boston, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
WELCH: Thanks, Neil.
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