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A clause in a high-ranking executive's hiring contract describing a lucrative severance package once the executive leaves the company. The package often includes cash and stock options worth millions of dollars, as well equity in the company. The executive is normally eligible for a golden handshake regardless of the circumstances under which he/she left the company, whether retirement, redundancy brought about from a merger or acquisition, or termination for mismanagement. Controversy surrounding the practice tends to increase in times of increased mergers, as well as in economic downturns.
See golden parachute.