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Executive Vice President, Law and Corporate Secretary Cendant Corp. 2004 Revenues: $19.8 billion Lawyers in Legal Department: 110
Cendant Corp. execs were sick of being corporate America’s punching bag. It was late 1999, and the company was still dealing with the public relations fallout that had sprung from the massive accounting fraud uncovered in early 1998. So, long before anyone had ever heard the words Sarbanes-Oxley, the board decided to launch a sweeping overhaul of the company’s corporate governance practices. The directors handed the job to a young, ambitious in-house lawyer, Eric Bock. Then 34, Bock had recently been named corporate secretary, after earning a reputation as a bright and ferociously hard-driving lawyer. “We knew he was young, but nobody — and that includes [chairman and chief executive] Henry Silverman — had any reservations about giving him this work,” recalls Richard Smith, the chairman and chief executive of Cendant’s real estate service division. “We knew he’d perform.” Bock didn’t disappoint. He scoured academic literature and statements from shareholder rights organizations. And in meetings with board members, he convinced them that expensing stock options, mandating that all committee members be independent, and holding periodic meetings with each of Cendant’s business units were all changes worth making. “Cendant was in bad shape,” recalls David Fox, a partner at New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and a leading outside counsel to the company. “It really was Eric’s aggressive and tireless work, under [general counsel James] Buckman’s stewardship, that restored the company’s reputation.” Aggressive — it’s one of the first words people use to describe Bock, who, in his tenure with the real estate and travel services company, has brought a hardworking, hard-charging approach to dealmaking, capital raising, and corporate governance. His tireless drive has earned him a quick rise up the in-house reporting chain. He arrived in 1997 after working at two law firms, first at New York’s Shearman & Sterling, then at Skadden, Arps. A mere eight years later, the 39-year-old is executive vice president, law, and corporate secretary. “I don’t really know what to say about my style,” says Bock, who says he is surprised by all the talk of his intensity. “I just really love this company, and I guess I love the work.” Despite his corporate governance accomplishments, Bock is better known at the New York-based company for his acquisitions and divestiture work. After the accounting scandal, Cendant embarked on a massive restructuring. In just one year — from the fall of 1999 through the fall of 2000 — Bock spearheaded the sale of 14 companies, including Avis Group, Match.com and National Leisure Group. More recently, Bock has taken the lead in the legal end of selling Cendant’s “noncore” businesses, including mortgage broker and vehicle fleet manager PHH Corp. (2005), tax preparer Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. (2004), and Cendant Marketing Services Division (slated to close this summer). Bock has also driven the negotiations on several of Cendant’s splashier acquisitions, including online travel vendors Orbitz, LLC (2004) and Gulliver’s Travel Associates, a U.K.-based travel agency (2004). “He goes out and gets it done,” says Marius Nasta, the general counsel of Cendant’s European and Middle Eastern operations. The DIY ethic is, ironically, something Bock has had to wean himself from as he’s moved up. But he’s becoming more comfortable sharing the load. “It was the last thing he needed to learn: how to let go,” says GC Buckman. “But now I really think he’s got all the GC tools in his belt.”

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