It seemed like an evening filled with potential: dozens of reporters, face to face with the top executives of a company embroiled in an accounting scandal.
But the only juicy morsels to surface at Delphi Corp.'s media open house last week were the ones on the canape trays.
The awkward evening at the company's suburban Detroit headquarters was the result of bad timing: The journalists had been invited before the March 4 news that Delphi had overstated its income and that CFO Alan Dawes was out. The idea was to introduce new COO Rodney O'Neal and other executives, after the February announcement that CEO J.T. Battenberg would retire by year end.
Despite the accounting scandal, Delphi's PR staff kept a stiff upper lip and proceeded with the party. But Karen Healy, vice president of corporate affairs, made it clear that the company wouldn't answer questions about the Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
So, like the proverbial elephant in the room, the hottest topic in town was pretty much ignored.
Some of the executives expect investigations by Delphi's board and the SEC to be finished by June 30, with minimal impact on Delphi's balance sheet. And, said Battenberg: "My retirement plans had absolutely nothing to do with this investigation."