MassMutual appeals ruling on firing of CEO Robert O’Connell

An arbitrator ruled that Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. fired its chief executive officer, Robert J. O’Connell, without cause. MassMutual’s board of directors fired him last year after alleging that he improperly increased the value of a retirement account by tens of millions of dollars.

The arbitration panel ruled that MassMutual didn’t follow the dismissal rules that were in the employment agreement the company had with Mr. O’Connell. The panel further found that Robert O’Connell did not breach the fiduciary duty he owed the company. They ruled that the company owed Mr. O’Connell a lump sum of three times his base salary plus short-term incentive award, plus other benefits. The estimated value of the amount owed to Mr. O’Connell is $40 million to $50 million.

MassMutual is appealing this ruling, saying that it undermines corporate governance policies. The company says that any monetary award that might be paid to Mr. O’Connell will not have a material impact on its financial statements.

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