Marlboro man? Casteen to join cigarette company board
Outgoing UVA president John Casteen has been elected to the board of directors of Altria Group, better known under its prior name, Philip Morris Companies Inc. and the maker of such well-known tobacco products as Marlboro cigarettes and Skoal.
"With his broad public and private sector experience, I know he will make significant contributions," the CEO said in a company release. Casteen's contributions couldn't save the last big company board he served. Casteen was among the final team raking in a cool $220,000 annually for their services–- only to watch, stunned and saddened, as Wachovia collapsed in 2008.
At Altria, Casteen will find himself among familiar faces, as he'll be serving alongside former UVA rector Thomas Farrell, but putting Casteen on board required a change in the company by-laws, which were amended for his appointment to allow the board to grow from nine to ten members.
In recent years, some shareholders and regulators have grown concerned that running large American companies has become an entitlement to riches, and some legislators have even suggested limiting corporate pay. Such concerns don't seem to be resonating at Altria, where despite a stock price that has fallen from over $70 two years ago to just $20 today, CEO Michael Szymanczyk, who earns a $1.3 million salary and a $3 million bonus, was last month awarded $5 million worth of company stock.
Altria stock fell about one percent in the early hours of the trading day after news of Casteen's appointment was announced.
Clarification: The description of the Altria stock price as falling over two years omitted an important fact initially unknown to the reporter: Altria spun off a subsidiary into a major separate company, Philip Morris International, on March 28, 2008. Taken together, the value of the two companies has not fallen but has actually remained about the same.
–updated at 11:28am with additional details
–updated Wednesday, February 24 at 12:16pm with clarification