Steve Jobs Tops List of CEO Departures in August

Figure remains unchanged from July but 9.4% higher than August 2010.

When Steve Jobs retired as Apple Inc. CEO last month, he was one of 104 chief executive officer departures announced by U.S.-based companies in August, according to the latest report on CEO turnover released Sept. 7 by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Last month's total was up 9.4% from August 2010. The number of CEO exits recorded in August was unchanged from July.

Resignation is the most-often cited reason for CEO departures with 245 this year. That is down from 264 resignations at the same point in 2010. Companies have cited retirement 159 times as their leaders' reasons for leaving.

Additionally, a total of 159 CEOs have "stepped down" this year, which means they no longer hold the CEO title, but remain with the company in some other capacity; typically as a board member or chairman of the board.

"We do not anticipate a sudden surge in CEO changes as the year comes to a close," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Resignations, retirements and other departures are expected to remain steady, as companies attempt to maintain stability through the uncertainty of this recovery. We could see increased volatility among the ranks of CEOs as the recovery begins to gain momentum and companies opt for leadership that is more growth oriented.

Challenger has now tracked 814 CEO departures in 2011, which is 4.9% fewer than the 856 CEO changes announced from January through August last year.

The government and non-profit sector incurred the heaviest CEO turnover activity last month with 20 announced departures. It was followed by the health care sector, which had 19 changes in leadership.

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