PepsiCo (PEP) Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi threw a secret star-studded bash last night to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary that left shareholders with a massive bill while hundreds of guests feasted on steaks, listened to Lionel Richie sing and heard Jerry Seinfeld crack jokes, the FOX Business Network has learned.
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Among the nearly 500 people in attendance included nearly all the company’s CEOs, as well as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and NY Giants owner John Mara. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received an invite but was a no-show, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. Seinfeld was the master of ceremonies for the event, while Richie sang a number of his hit songs. Richie confirmed his appearance; a Seinfeld representative didn’t return calls for comment.
In addition to members of the media, left off the invite list was PepsiCo investor and corporate activist Trian Partner's Nelson Peltz, who has been critical of Nooyi’s management in recent years, these people say.
Yale University management professor and frequent Peltz critic Jeffrey Sonnenfeld was spotted at the event, which had costs that well exceeded $1 million, all of which was picked up by Pepsico shareholders, these people say. Seinfeld is said to charge about $250,000 for such events and neither he nor Richie performed for free.
Sonnenfeld did not return repeated telephone calls and email over whether he viewed the expenditure as a proper use of shareholder money. Shares of PepsiCo have outperformed rival Coca-Cola (KO), but they have generally underperformed major indexes. Peltz has criticized PepsiCo's corporate structure, and Nooyi's pay which exceeded $19 million in 2014. Peltz didn’t return a call for comment.
A PepsiCo spokesman tells FOX Business: “To honor the 50th anniversary of the merging of Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay, we held several private events yesterday to engage our employees, partners and customers. We did so in a responsible manner to thank those who have enabled us to deliver strong financial results over our first five decades.”
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There is nothing illegal about companies holding such parties, but swanky corporate events have been increasingly controversial since former Tyco Inc. (TYC) CEO Dennis Kozlowski threw a $2 million birthday party for his then wife in Sardinia in 2001. A tape of the party was released, showing Kozlowski and his attendees dancing in front of an ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s David urinating and with that Kozlowski became a symbol of corporate greed--and such celebrations by CEOs were frowned upon.
But Kozlowski tells FOX Business he paid for the event himself, and while the PepsiCo party didn't include such extravagances, people in attendance tell FOX Business, the company splurged on everything from wine to top-shelf food and entertainment.
"It was a great event," said one person in attendance, "Pepsi really knows how to throw a party."