golden bungee
n. A lucrative package paid to an executive that includes severance pay for leaving the company and cash, options, or some other incentive to remain associated with the company.
Under the terms of the agreement, McGinnis will remain in charge of Ralston's and Nestle's combined pet food business, which will be based in St. Louis. Instead of bailing out with the so-called golden parachute, McGinnis will bounce back from the deal on what McGurn called a 'golden bungee.'
—Christopher Carey, “2 Ralston Executives Got Millions In Stock Grants As Buyout By Nestle Unfolded,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 06, 2001
1998 (earliest)
Several top ITT Corp executives are to receive lucrative cash severance payments as ITT is acquired by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, while also getting thousands of stock options as incentive to work for Starwood; the 'golden bungee' arrangement is unusual in that the executives will receive cash severance while also being paid to stay put.
—Christina Binkley & Joann S. Lublin, “ITT Brass to Get 'Golden Bungee' In Takeover,” The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 1998
As the example citation suggests, this phrase is a play on the term golden parachute, "a long-term contract that guarantees financial security for an executive who is forced to leave a company," which entered the language around 1980. In turn, this was a play on golden handshake, "a generous financial package paid to an executive who is fired or forced into retirement," which entered the lexicon around 1960.
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