CEO Turnover Drops to End First Quarter

Chicago — April 11

Turnover among chief executive officers slowed in March as 94 departures were announced during the month, compared to 104 in February. Overall, CEO turnover through the first quarter is up 18 percent from a year ago, according to the latest report on CEO departures released by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The 94 CEO changes recorded last month were 5 percent lower than the 99 in March 2011, marking the first time this year that monthly CEO changes were lower than the corresponding month a year earlier, the report said.

So far this year, a total of 321 CEO changes have been announced, up from 287 in the first three months of 2011. The first-quarter total is up 25 percent from the final three months of 2011, when 256 CEO departures were announced.

Health care experienced the heaviest turnover in March with 19 CEO changes. It leads all sectors for the year with 63 total departures, a 66 percent increase from the 38 departures recorded by this point last year.

The health care sector was followed by organizations in government and nonprofit, where 39 CEOs left their post this year, including 12 in March.

The computer and financial sectors each announced 31 CEO departures during the first three months of 2012, the report said.

This year, 94 CEOs have “resigned,” while 70 retired. Another 55 stepped down from their posts but remained with the company, usually as a board member, the report said.

Thirty-five left for new positions at other companies.

Among the notable March announcements was Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonalds Corp., where long-time leader James Skinner will be replaced by president and COO Don Thompson. Media-giant McClatchy Co. also announced Patrick Talamantes would replace Gary Pruitt.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.