Image: Robert Nardelli
Tami Chappell  /  Reuters file
Home Depot CEO Robert L. Nardelli resigned on Jan. 3 amid criticism by shareholders.
updated 1/10/2007 7:28:45 PM ET 2007-01-11T00:28:45

A group of shareholders of The Home Depot Inc. on Wednesday tried to block, at least for now, the world’s largest home improvement store chain from paying former Chief Executive Bob Nardelli any more of his $210 million severance package.

The request for a temporary restraining order was made in Fulton County Superior Court by the shareholders as part of a previously filed lawsuit alleging that the Atlanta-based company overpaid senior executives and backdated stock options in violation of their fiduciary duties.

There was no immediate ruling on the request. Home Depot spokesman Jerry Shields said the company had not received the motion and couldn’t comment.

The company announced last week that Nardelli had resigned after six years at Home Depot’s helm amid a furor over his pay and Home Depot’s lagging stock price. Nardelli was replaced by vice chairman Frank Blake.

As part of the resignation, the company said Nardelli would receive a severance package worth about $210 million. Some of the benefits have already been paid. Home Depot said Nardelli’s departure was mutually agreed to by him and the company.

In the restraining order request, the shareholders group said the company “will suffer additional irreparable harm if Nardelli is allowed to receive the full benefit” of the severance package.

The shareholders say that if the restraining order is not granted, a trust should be imposed to prevent Nardelli from using for his own benefit the money from the severance package until the lawsuit is resolved.

The lead plaintiff is the city of Pontiac, Mich.’s employee retirement fund, which holds Home Depot shares.

On Monday, Home Depot said its board has voted to require that in the future two-thirds of its independent directors approve any compensation granted to the company’s chief executive. Previously, approval by only a majority of independent directors was required.

Some shareholders have been pushing Home Depot to allow them a say in CEO compensation matters.

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