CEOs Who Were Fired or Forced Out in 2016: Macy's, Wells Fargo, Valeant and More

Several high-profile CEOs lost their jobs in 2016, along with one or two who “resigned” with the cooperation of their boards. To a person, the exits should help the companies.

Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M). After a tenure as one of the least successful big department store CEOs, Terry Lundgren will go in early 2017. He will leave a legacy of falling same-store sales, store closings and layoffs. He will, unfortunately be replaced by another architect of Macy’s failure, number two Jeff Gennette.

Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS). CEO Ron Sargent left after his strategic plan to merge with Office Depot failed. He did not see that the hands of regulators would kill it.

Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS). Ronald D. Boire lasted a year. No one has been in the job terribly long under founder and executive chairman Leonard Riggio. Boire took the helm of a company Riggio had already ruined. A turnaround of the brick-and-mortar stores is impossible.

Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM). Walter Robb was dumped by founder John Mackey. After accusations of overcharging customers and violating food handling regulations, Robb left. As is often the case, the founders stayed.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG). Co-CEO and founder Steve Ells stays. Monty Moran gets pushed out. Food safety scandals and a reported drop in customer service have dismantled years of success. Ellis was a part of the problem.

Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIAB). Philippe Dauman, routinely one of the highest paid CEOs in America, was kicked out during a fight among members of the Redstone family (Sumner Redstone has voting control), and other board members and shareholders. Viacom results have been weaking for years.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC). CEO John Stumpf was forced out after a customer fraud scandal. The government may be investigating, and fining, the bank for months.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX). CEO J. Michael Pearson left due to accounting scandals that have made him the target of a federal investigation. The company has floundered since, and its shares recently hit a 52-week low.

LendingClub Corp. (NYSE: LC). Renaud Laplanche, a founder and CEO who was booted, left due to scandals about lending practices. Almost immediately he started Credify Finance to compete with his old company.

A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the CEO of Spirit Airlines Inc. While various media reports describe Mr. Baldanza’s departure as “abrupt” and as being “replaced”, he was not fired or “forced out.” 

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