Constar pays up to attract its new CEO

It took only 20 weeks for Constar International Inc. to find a new chief executive officer after Michael J. Hoffman resigned April 28.

But the Philadelphia plastic-container manufacturer had to pay up to pry Grant H. Beard away from a Michigan private-equity firm.

Beard, 49, will get a base salary of $750,000, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s more than the $497,950 his predecessor had gotten.

Beard also will receive annual equity compensation totaling $1.25 million, starting in 2011, and will be eligible for an annual bonus of up to 100 percent of his salary. Unlike some recently hired CEOs, Beard will not get a signing bonus. But he will be paid a guaranteed bonus of $250,000 at the end of this year.

Constar chairman L. White Matthews III said in a statement that Beard was “an ideal fit” to lead the company.

One reason is that before joining that private-equity firm in February 2009, Beard had spent nearly eight years as president and CEO of TriMas Corp., a Michigan diversified manufacturer that is involved in the packaging sector. TriMas is bigger than Constar, with sales of $803.65 million in 2009.

Constar - spun off by another Philadelphia company, Crown Holdings Inc., in 2002 - has struggled financially. It emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of May 2009 and lost $21.1 million, or $12.06 a share, on net sales of $421.19 million for the eight months ended Dec. 31.

Sometimes, word of the hiring of a CEO can move the stock price. Not this time. Constar shares closed unchanged Wednesday at $2.10. The company has lost 87 percent of its market value over last 52 weeks.

But then, leadership transitions can be costly. Constar is obligated to pay former CEO Hoffman a lump sum of $2.2 million in November as part of his employment agreement.

Plus, it paid $250,000 to Constar board member Ruth J. Mack for her work as interim president and CEO from April 28 to Sept. 13.

List of liens

When the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue expanded its online list of tax liens in August, the agency said it hoped that publicly embarrassing individuals and businesses would spur them to settle and pay up.

It has prompted some to do so. On Wednesday, Revenue Department officials said 646 liens totaling $4.4 million had been satisfied, and they were removed from the list, which is available for viewing 24/7 on the agency’s website. (Read it here.)

However, the “In box” for unpaid taxes only grew larger. In the month since the state last reported delinquencies, the agency added 2,951 new liens covering $22.9 million.

That brings the current tally to 41,629 liens totaling $251.46 million.

Taxing problem

Several readers responded to Tuesday’s column on simplifying the tax system and making it more fair.

All were skeptical that Congress could or would do so. Here’s one reaction:

“The trick, it seems to me, is getting everyone to agree on which route to take,” wrote Andrew Terhune, of Center City, in an e-mail.

“The problem is that it’s difficult to give up any revenue with trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, even though in the long run simplification might produce more growth and ultimately more revenue.”