September 22, 2015 / 8:19 PM / 2 years ago

Exclusive: Super Bowls and fine wines - Document describes world of Dow CEO

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Dow Chemical Chief Executive Andrew Liveris speaks during the CERAWEEK energy conference in Houston March 8, 2012.Richard Carson

NEW YORK/ATLANTA (Reuters) - Running a Fortune 500 company is a high-pressure occupation. But as documents from Dow Chemical Co suggest, the CEO job can offer some luxuries as well.

Dow’s Andrew Liveris has had the company arrange Super Bowl getaways and other trips for himself, family and friends. According to an internal report, Liveris went on to instruct an aide, in January 2010, not to inform a group of Dow customers invited to that year’s Super Bowl that he too would be there.

“Please tell no-one I am going …….like always,” Liveris wrote to Robert Long, former head of Dow’s Customer Events Department.

Long reassured Liveris the same day, the report says: “As always- no one knows your schedule and I have your tickets on the opposite side of the stadium from the customer tickets. You are not attending any of the same events that any of the Dow customers are attending.”

Dow also bought $90,000 worth of a prized Australian wine, some that cost more than $460 a bottle, the report says. One case went to the CEO’s house. Liveris also once had three bottles sent to one of his son’s teachers.

These are among the scenes from the world of the 61-year-old CEO, as portrayed in a 29-page report prepared by a Dow internal investigator.

A Dow spokeswoman said that Liveris didn’t avoid clients at Super Bowls or other events. It had no comment on the large wine purchase or the gift to the teacher.

In May, Reuters reported that Dow internal watchdogs had a months-long standoff with the CEO over his expenses. [ID:nL1N0XW27E] The newly released documents give a granular look at some of the spending at issue. They also offer insight into the rich resources available to the CEO of a major multinational.

Produced in June 2010 by internal investigator Kimberly Wood, the report was released by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

In February, Dow settled a lawsuit filed by Wood. She claimed she was fired in 2013 after conducting inquiries into spending by Liveris; Dow says her job was eliminated and she voluntarily sought a retirement package.

The Wood report is now among thousands of pages of records subpoenaed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Reuters reported in June that the SEC is investigating allegations that Liveris may have misused company funds for personal benefit. [ID:nL1N0YR00N]

Dow disclosed in 2011 that Liveris had reimbursed the company $719,923 for expenses described as “not primarily business related.”

The Wood report cites emails in which Liveris told subordinates that he intended to pay for certain trips. Her report finds that Long’s Customer Events Department, which handled the arrangements, misclassified some of the CEO’s expenses and failed to bill him properly. In response to her findings, Dow hired outside lawyers, Liveris made the reimbursement, and the sum was disclosed to shareholders. Dow says the CEO did nothing wrong and that there have been no problems since with his expenses.

Among the events Wood examined were Super Bowl weekends the CEO held with “family and friends” in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

For several years, Dow hosted top customers and executives at the National Football League’s championship game.

Two Groups

In some years, details in the report indicate, Liveris sought to avoid mingling with Dow customers, inside or away from the stadium. The report says that, “since at least 2008, the Super Bowl programs have been split into two hotels, one for ANL’s guests and one for the other Dow group.” ANL are the initials for Andrew N. Liveris.

Wood cites email exchanges between Liveris and Long, the customer events manager, ahead of the 2010 game between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts in Miami.

At one point, the report says, Long emailed Liveris to say that the CEO and his guests would be staying at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. Customers and other Dow personnel would be at another hotel.

According to the report, Liveris responded: “Ok. Make sure they don’t know I am there.”

Long left Dow in 2011. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Dow spokeswoman Rebecca Bentley didn’t dispute the emails between Liveris and Long. But she said Liveris never sought to duck clients.

“With respect to the Super Bowls (and many other events), Mr. Liveris met with Dow customers and other senior business people,” she said.

The Liveris Super Bowl party had 14 members in 2010. A preliminary invoice for the group’s four-day trip came to $218,938. “Andrew and his friends and relatives incurred 11/14 of” that cost, the report says. It isn’t clear who the other three attendees were. The report lists the 14 people, but OSHA redacted all names except the CEO’s.

The CEO’s party received 14 Super Bowl tickets at a cost of $8,150 apiece, the report says. Liveris planned to fly his wife and several “personal” guests to Florida on Dow’s jet, the CEO wrote to Long. The group had six SUVs with drivers at their disposal, the report says. Other expenses included football jerseys signed by players.

Given the time demands placed on Liveris in running a global company, Bentley said, his “business and personal times often intersect. It is not uncommon for family members to attend events when the business purpose warrants it, especially if clients or business partners attending also have family members in attendance.”

Long handled other high-end purchases, too. Among them: Penfolds Grange, a top-shelf wine from Australia, where Liveris was born.

In 2010, Long, based in New Jersey, bought approximately $90,000 worth of Grange on a Dow credit card, the report says, some that cost “in excess of $460 per bottle.”

Three cases were shipped to Dow in Midland, Michigan, on a corporate jet, the report says. One went to Liveris’s house, and two to a Dow-owned hotel.

In previous years, the report says, Liveris sent bottles of Grange as a gift. Most of these went to business associates. “It is not unusual for companies to give gifts to senior executives at core clients,” said Bentley.

In December 2009, Liveris had three bottles of Grange sent to a teacher at Cranbrook, a private high school near Detroit attended by his younger son. The accompanying note, Liveris directed, should thank the teacher “for being such a great mentor and friend” to his son “and all of the Liveris family.”

Edited by Blake Morrison

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