2017 May CEO Report: 80 CEO Exits, Lowest in Over 6 Years

Turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers fell to the lowest monthly total in over six years as 80 CEOs left their posts last month. That is down 12 percent from April when 91 CEO departures were recorded, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

May’s total is 20 percent lower than the same month a year ago when CEO departures numbered 100. Last month saw the fewest CEO changes since December 2010 when 79 chief executive exits were recorded.

“With the potential for vast government deregulation and tax reform on the horizon, companies are opting to keep existing leadership in place until they can determine how these changes might impact business,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Any expansion or downsizing plans may be on hold until employers can assess proposals in health and tax reform and create and implement strategy.”
Through the first five months of the year, 472 CEOs have left their posts, a 10 percent decrease from the 527 exits announced through May 2016.

Government/non-profit organizations continue to lead all sectors with 62 reported CEO changes this year, 9 occurring in May. This industry has seen 31 percent fewer CEO changes so far in 2017 than through the same period last year when 90 CEOs left their posts.

Hospitals have announced 53 CEO changes through May, while financial firms and service industries each announced 44 exits this year. Health care/products and service companies reported the most CEO changes in May with 11 each. Health care products companies have announced 40 CEO changes through the first five months of the year.

Through the first five months of the year, 160 CEOs have “stepped down” from the CEO role, usually into a board chair or other C-level or advisory position. Twenty-one CEOs cited this reason in May.

Another 125 CEOs have retired, while 79 have resigned. Thirty-nine CEOs found new positions in other companies, while 30 saw their interim periods end.

California has seen the most CEO changes in 2017 with 60, 10 of which occurred in May. Texas has recorded 51 CEO changes, 8 in May, while New York reported 31 CEO changes this year, 7 last month.