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Byline: Robert Luke
Nov. 3--A.D. "Pete" Correll Jr. has his hands full these days as the chairman and chief executive of Georgia-Pacific Corp. The lumber and paper products giant is heavy with debt, faces mounting asbestos litigation and has seen its shares lose more than half their value this year.
Even so, Correll finds time to serve on three other corporate boards. The bottom line, as he sees it: "We view it as a critical part of helping Pete Correll be a better CEO."
That may be so, but some corporate governance experts say Correll and other CEOs will be hard-pressed to serve on so many outside boards in the future. Such service is likely to consume much more time than in the past, they say, in the wake of new laws and stock-exchange rules requiring directors to be more engaged in protecting shareholder interests -- or risk civil and even criminal sanctions if they don't.
"Unless a CEO's own company is in the top third of its peer group, he should not be on any other board," says Nell Minow, a corporate governance expert at the Corporate Library in Portland, Maine. "I would wonder about the effectiveness of his own board in allowing him to take so much time away from his primary duties."
Yet multiple directorships are commonplace. A review of Georgia's 50 largest publicly traded companies by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that more than one-third of the CEOs serve on two or more corporate boards.
Six CEOs, including Georgia-Pacific's Correll, serve on three or more boards. One CEO, Genuine Parts' Larry L. Prince, serves on five boards.
But serving on multiple boards isn't the only issue confronting top executives these days. In …