Kiss my money

Philippe Riboton

REMEMBER THE TIME he was the honey of all the media. Journalists would fight like hell to get interviews. In fact, he was one of the most respected figures in Czech business. Incidentally, he was also very much in the spotlight for another good reason: he was sitting on the second largest media budget in the whole Czech market. Professional magazines reported it amounted to CZK 978 million in 2003 – the kind of number that would make the media representatives line-up at his door like dogs waiting for their daily bone. This of course had nothing to do with the fact you would often see the most respected media praise his management and communication skills through loving portraits and interviews. Then one day, in May of this year, he resigned from his position of CEO – one could in fact say that he was “politely assassinated”. And guess what: the latest news is (the same respected media discovered) that he wasn’t such a good manager after all and, to really tell the truth, he was actually way over paid for the function.
Insiders will easily recognize Terrence Valeski, former CEO of Eurotel. And the same media that praised him like courtesans now don’t fail to mention the fact he also had a whole entourage of managers (incidentally foreign), who were likewise paid far too much. Likewise, insiders will no doubt notice that a great piece of lobbying (call it manipulation if you prefer) has started behind the curtain in the wake of the privatization of Czech Telecom, the main shareholder of Eurotel. In the end, when looking at this sinister game of triple-bank billiards that resonates like the second death of Terrence Valeski, it is hard not to think of the old saying: “if you wanna kill your dog, say that he has the plague.” An updated business version could read: “if you wanna buy a company cheaper, say that it’s full of crap”.






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