- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Evelyn Y. Davis was raking CEOs over the coals before it was popular.

Famous for hogging the microphone _ and sometimes stealing the show _ at shareholder meetings around the country, Davis is being honored by the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday when she will ring the closing bell.

The Washington resident and Amsterdam native is known for making brash, bullheaded challenges to corporate executives and directors at annual meetings, delivered loudly in a guttural Dutch accent.

And don’t call her Miss Davis. As she’ll tell you, “I’m Mrs. Davis. I’ve had four husbands.”

A year ago, she warned Citigroup’s new CEO Vikram Pandit that he was a “student of banking” and had “a lot to learn.” In 2007, she called for the ouster of Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd; he was removed later by the U.S. government. She has been railing for years against excessive and poorly disclosed executive compensation, a topic that is now fueling outrage in Washington.

Sometimes, she actually gets her way. In 2004, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. changed its board election policy after Davis and other shareholders demanded annual votes for stronger director accountability.

Always opinionated, the self-proclaimed “queen of the corporate jungle” offered the following thoughts by phone from the Waldorf-Astoria in New York Tuesday before her debut at the bell podium:

_ On executive compensation: “I am against golden parachutes and sign-on bonuses anywhere … And I want no new stock options extended to anybody. Give them stock instead of stock options.”

_ On the government removing General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner: “Of all my years of experience, he was the very best CEO ever. He was the most accessible CEO I’ve ever dealt with. I think it was a lousy trick.”

_ On Pandit, Ken Lewis, Jamie Dimon, the CEOs of the three largest U.S. banks: “I’m sure they try their best … Right now, I’m satisfied with all three of them. It’s very, very tough. It’s like a captain having to steer a ship in a huge tornado.”

_ On President Barack Obama: “The president never ran a business. He was never on a financial committee. He doesn’t have the knowledge and experience. He means well, but things are in total disarray in Washington.”

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