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US Corporate Chief Retreats After 'Distressed Babies' Remark

FILE - AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.
FILE - AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.
An American corporate executive is apologizing after he cited the high cost of the birth of two "distressed babies" as a reason to trim the retirement benefits of his employees.

The chief executive of Internet company AOL, Tim Armstrong, last week told workers that he was changing the timing of company contributions to their retirement accounts. The change would save the company money and likely cost employees thousands of dollars.

Armstrong cited AOL's rising health care costs, noting the company's health insurance plan had paid $1 million in benefits for two women who had given birth to "distressed babies."

One of the new mothers, Deanna Fei, wrote an essay criticizing Armstrong's "absurd justification for corporate cost-cutting."

With the outcry, Armstrong abandoned changes in the retirement plan and said he "made a mistake" in linking them to the cost of the birth of the babies.

Fei said in the NBC's Today show Monday that she accepted Armstrong's "heartfelt" apology he made to her in a phone call.

Fei, the wife of an AOL editor, said her baby was born unexpectedly and prematurely in late 2012. She said the baby spent three months in intensive care, but now is more than a year old and healthy.
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