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Mail on Sunday: Boss accused over Polaroid failure


Patrick Tooher, Mail on Sunday

18 April 2004


SHELL finance chief Judy Boynton has been named in a US lawsuit that alleges she gave false and misleading information in her former job shortly before the company plunged into bankruptcy.


Boynton was chief financial officer at film and camera giant Polaroid for three years until January 2001 before joining Shell.


Later that year, Polaroid filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after failing to service debts of $1bn(560m).  


The action claims that between January 2000 and August 2001, Boynton and three other directors issued 'numerous false and misleading statements with respect to Polaroid's financial condition' and that they 'knew or should have known that the company's financial condition had significantly deteriorated and was much worse than represented to the public'.


Boynton quit Polaroid a month after the company shocked investors by lowering its fourth-quarter profit estimates. Polaroid was eventually sold to a bank.


Boynton received an 800,000 severance deal, but shareholders ended up with nothing.


William O'Neill, a former Polaroid finance chief, blamed the board's lack of credibility for the collapse of the once high-flying company.


He is quoted as saying: 'The company needed financing and who was going to loan them money under the old management? The answer was nobody.'


Before joining Polaroid, Boynton spent 20 years with US oil giant Amoco, now part of BP.


She enjoyed a rapid rise at Shell, where she was a close confidante of Sir Philip Watts, the chairman ousted over his role in the oil reserves affair.


Boynton, a 49-year-old American, became the first woman to join the notoriously conservative company's all- powerful committee of managing directors and was named as a 'Star of Europe' by Business Week magazine.


The former high school cheerleader lists her hobbies as flyfishing and gardening. She is one of Britain's few female finance directors.


She was unavailable for comment at the weekend.

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