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Study: CEOs Leaving For No Good Reason

By Agence France-Presse The number of U.S. chief executives leaving their companies without a specified reason has surged since the Enron Corp. scandal erupted, an industry survey shows. While the total number of CEO departures fell, the number of chief executives leaving without a disclosed reason rose, said the survey by Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, some chief executives had rallied their employees or helped raise money for relief efforts, says the outplacement firm's chief executive, John Challenger. "However, the positive feelings may have been negated by more recent examples of chief executives who, under pressure to achieve bigger numbers every quarter, found ways to bend the rules of corporate governance to increase the bottom line," he says. Comparing the seven months to May of 2002 with the seven months to October of 2001, when the Enron investigation began, the survey found the total number of chief executive departure announcements dropped from 476 to 442. But the number of company bosses heading for the exit door without a stated reason increased from 161 to 182. In percentage terms, the proportion of chief executives leaving without a specified reason leapt from 33.8% to 41.2% -- an increase of 21.9%. "Increased scrutiny by directors, wary investors and government agencies in the seven months since the announcement of the Enron investigation may have resulted in a 21% rise in the percentage of chief executive officers leaving office for unspecified reasons," the survey says. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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