How chairs and CEOs depart in quick succession

December 15, 2019

Chairs and CEOs of troubled companies tend to depart in quick succession, as this list demonstrates.

AMP, 2002-03: Paul Batchelor was sacked as CEO on September 24, 2002 and chairman Stan Wallis resigned on February 25, 2003 so both were gone within five months.

AMP: Chairman Ian Burgess and four other directors resigned on April 3, 2000 and they'd earlier dumped CEO George Trumbull on July 26, 1999 and instantly replaced him with Paul Batchelor, so both gone within 9 months.

ANZ: The early retirement of chairman Milton Bridgland and CEO Will Bailey was announced on April 9, 1992 with Bridgland replaced by John Gough in July and Bailey replaced by Don Mercer around the same time after being named successor on May 28, 1992. In November 1992 ANZ announced a record $600 million loss and both chairman and CEO had gone in the previous four months.

BHP: CEO John Prescott was finally sacked on March 4, 1998 and chairman Jerry Ellis announced his early retirement on August 3, 1998 although he wasn't actually replaced by Don Argus until early in 1999 once he'd finished up as CEO of NAB.

Lend Lease: Greg Clarke replaced David Higgins as CEO on December 9, 2002 and Jill Ker Conway was replaced by David Crawford as chairman on May 29, 2003. Chairman and CEO both gone within six months.

NAB, 2004: the foreign exchange crisis saw Charles Allen resign as chairman on February 16, 2004, just two weeks after CEO Frank Cicutto exited on February 2, so both departed in the same month and in less than 5 weeks after the $180 million unauthorised foreign exchange trading loss was disclosed on January 13, 2019.

Orica: Don Mercer replaced Ben Lochtenberg as chairman on May 2, 2001 and Phil Weickhardt was ousted as CEO on July 5, 2001. Malcolm Broomhead was announced as new CEO on August 23, 2001. Chairman and CEO were both gone within two months.

Southcorp: Rick Allert resigned as chairman after 19 years on October 31, 2003 and Keith Lambert was sacked as CEO on February 3 2003, so both were gone in less than four months.

Westpac: chairman Sir Eric Neal and four other directors quit on September 30, 1992, and CEO Frank Conroy quit after 15 months as CEO on December 17, 1992, in response to the bank's record $1.6 billion loss. Therefore, both went within three months.

•One month: NAB 2004 (Allen/Cicutto)
•2-3 months: Westpac 1992 (Neil/Conroy), ANZ 1992 Bailey/Milton), Orica 2001, PMP 2002 (Cowley/Muscat)
•4-6 months: BHP 1998 (Prescott/Ellis), Lend Lease 2002 (Higgins/Conway), AMP 2002-03, Aristocrat 2003 (Ducker/Randall), Southcorp 2003 (Allert/Lambert), David Jones 2003 (Wilkinson/Warburton)
7-12 months: AMP 1999 (Trumbull/Burgess), Telstra 2004, Mayne 2002 (Smedley/Rayner)