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Chapter 3. The Superstar CEO: Celebritie... > Red Flag 7: When a CEO Is Abusive, I...

Red Flag 7: When a CEO Is Abusive, It May Be a Sign of Major Problems

Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling’s crude verbal assault on a hedge fund manager during a quarterly conference call in April 2001 was taken as an indication by short sellers that the pressure was really getting to top management at Enron. Highfields Capital Management Managing Director Richard Grubman had asked to see Enron’s balance sheet—not an unreasonable request given that the energy trader had just issued its first-quarter results without including it in the press release. After all, you can only get a full picture of a company’s performance and prospects by checking on its debt obligations. “You’re the only financial institution that can’t come up with a balance sheet or cash flow statement after earnings,” Grubman grumbled on the call. “Well, thank you very much, we appreciate that, asshole,” Skilling responded with a laugh.


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