The [Friday] Papers
At first I thought this was big news:
"Insurance brokerage Aon Corp. plans to move its corporate headquarters from Chicago to London to improve its access to emerging markets and increase its financial flexibility," Crain's reports.
Now I'm not so sure.
"But Aon will add 750 jobs to its offices at the Aon Center in the East Loop, a spokesman says. Those jobs will be a combination of new positions and transfers from elsewhere in the U.S., he said.
"The company said Chicago will remain its headquarters for the Americas."
So should the headline be "Aon's International Executives Moving To London?"
"About 20 employees including Chief Executive Officer Greg Case will move to the broker's existing London offices in the city's financial district known as the Square Mile," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
Memo to Crain's initial commenters:
"We made this decision based the fact that our business is evolving globally," spokesman David Prosperi told the Tribune, shooting down the idea that a higher corporate tax rate in Illinois pushed them away. "We are not doing this for any public policy reasons in Illinois."
That was confirmed by The Insurance Insider in an interview with Aon Risk Services CEO Steve McGill.
"This was a strategic play, not a tax play," McGill told the publication.
"The company already has a big presence in the United Kingdom," AP reports. "It is the main sponsor of the soccer team Manchester United through a four-year contract totaling 80 million British pounds ($122.6 million). Manchester United is ranked as the most valuable soccer team in the world by Forbes magazine.
"Aon also has about 6,000 employees in London in its risk brokerage and human resources consulting businesses."
Greg Case, by the way, is the 139th highest paid CEO in America, according to Forbes
Speaking of emerging markets, Aon paid $16.2 million to settle bribery charges last month.
"The government alleged that Aon subsidiaries made more than $3.6 million in improper payments to officials all over the world, from Vietnam and Costa Rica to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
"The charges are not based 'on an isolated instance of misconduct,' Kara Brockmeyer, head of the SEC's enforcement unit specializing in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act probes, said in a statement.
"'Aon's subsidiaries repeatedly engaged in misconduct around the world,' she said."
Chicago just wasn't big enough to hold 'em anymore.
UPDATE 2:40 P.M.: "The publicly traded Chicago-based company announced Friday that it's moving its headquarters at least partly to reduce its tax burden, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing," the Tribune reports.
I'm not sure if that's true. A benefit isn't the same as a reason; in this case it appears that, at the least, Aon executives are using tax advantages that will supposedly accrue to shareholders as part of their appeal for approval.
At the same time, according to the Trib, Aon's board has considered the bad publicity this move may engender, and perhaps company execs are minimizing tax breaks to avoid the perception that they are abandoning their American base - mostly on paper, anyway - to keep more of their money out of the U.S. Treasury. Occupy Aon!
It's full of egregious errors. Passing it along may make for good - if disingenuous - partisan politics, but it certainly doesn't make for good journalism.
Also, from Zorn today:
"'There's a big difference between financial manipulation and capitalism,' said Newt Gingrich, the GOP candidate whose technically unaffiliated political action committee will spend a reported $5 million in South Carolina this week to promote and air When Mitt Romney Came To Town, a 28-minute video that portrays Romney the businessman as rapacious, heartless and obtuse."
See also: Obama's Private Equity Alums
UPDATE 10:41 A.M.: Another fact-check on When Mitt Romney Came To Town: That's not Mitt getting a shoeshine, that's Mitt going through a security check.
UPDATE: 2:32 P.M.: "Saying he does not want false claims made on his behalf, Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich on Friday morning called on a 'super PAC' that supports him to withdraw commercials it ran in South Carolina criticizing Mitt Romney and his old company Bain Capital," the Los Angeles Times reports.
Meanwhile, Zorn has added a (nearly impossible to find) link to the fact-checking piece I used above that absolutely destroys the video to his column as an "update" but has not in any way admitted error in posting it (twice - two versions, one embeddable - with the transcript) in the first place.
The Week in Occupy Chicago
"It wasn't until two hours later that the officer said she had off-duty Officer Richard Bolling perform a series of field-sobriety tests."
Here's one: Be honest!
I mean, we shouldn't have to "keep" them honest. That's not our job. We are not our pols' keepers! I mean, without citizen restraints they just can't help themselves? Stop us before we lie again! Do something before we steal more!
Rahm has formed an Ethics Task Force to look into the matter. One member is Dawn Clark Netsch, who has collected approximately $1.6 million in pension money since 1995 and memorably said upon that revelation, "I know I get a big pension. What am I supposed to do? Refuse it?"
That's the difference between what's ethical and what's legal. You know it's wrong, Dawn, yet you keep cashing those checks. Apparently you need us to "keep" you from doing it.
Yeah, She Tweeted It
COMMENT 2:30 P.M.: From a faithful reader:
best part about stella column: she never mentions her twitter handle.
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Posted on January 13, 2012
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