If you're an executive, Tyco (NYSE:TYC) is a nice place to work. Former CEO Dennis Kozlowski pulled down Grasso-esque compensation. Of course, a Manhattan jury will decide if he really just looted the corporate treasury.

As for his successor, Edward Breen's pay package is in accordance with Tyco's long tradition of executive compensation. At the end of 2003, his take sits at about $172 million. Not bad for less than two years' work.

Then again, it was a gutsy move for Breen to leave his job at Motorola (NYSE:MOT) -- passing up the possibility of becoming CEO -- and move to Tyco, which at the time was mired in scandal and verging on Chapter 11.

Big loss for Motorola. In short order, Breen has staged an incredible comeback at Tyco. With Breen at the helm, the stock has surged from $7 to $26.

This week, Tyco's CFO declared a goal of $3 billion in cost cuts for the next three years. He also wants to halve the company's debt load to about $10 to $12 billion. Until this is accomplished, there will be no major M&A activity.

Remember, Tyco, as we know it, is the result of more than 2,000 acquisitions. Empires are not built without complications. The impetus of the cost cutting is to simplify the corporate structure on three fronts: $1 billion in purchasing efficiencies, $1 billion in "Six Sigma" programs, and $1 billion in working capital improvements.

It's ambitious, but in light of his performance so far, Breen has Street cred. If anything, the goals are likely to be exceeded.

There's no excuse for Kozlowski treating Tyco as his personal piggy bank. Yet, he did create a pretty fat pig, which gushes lots of cash (a cash pig?). Yes, Kozlowski did create a mini-General Electric (NYSE:GE). What the company needed was a top-notch operator, and Breen fits the bill.

Tom Taulli is the author of six books on investing, including The Complete M&A Handbook (Random House). You can reach him at tom@taulli.com.