CEO Resignation Reasons Kept under Wraps

June 10, 2002 ( - Increased scrutiny by directors, investors and the government may have possibly led to a 21% rise in the percentage of chief executive officers who left office for unspecified reasons, a new study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. finds.

The survey found that overall, CEO departures fell by 7% after the government’s announcement of a formal investigation into Enron in late October last year. During that time, there was a significant increase in departures for which no reason was disclosed.
Of the 442 CEO departures announced between November 2001 and May 2002, 41% gave no reason for their exits.

Between April 2001 and October 2001, before the Enron scandal imploded, 32% of the total 476 CEO departures were identified as resignations. The number of announced resignations fell in the seven months after the Enron debacle, to 28% of the 442 departures.
However, for both the seven months before the Enron scandal became public, and the seven months afterwards, retirement was the third most cited reason for departure, accounting for 19% and 21% of CEO departures announced.