The executive suite saw increased volatility as 2012 came to a close, with 323 chief executive officers leaving their posts in the final three months of the year. That was up 26 percent from 256 CEO departures recorded during the same period a year earlier, according to the latest report on CEO turnover released Wednesday by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
December marked the third consecutive month in which more than 100 CEO changes were recorded. A total of 103 CEO changes were announced last month, down eight percent from 112 in November. December departures were up 24 percent from the same month in 2011, when 83 CEOs vacated their offices.
The year-end surge helped push the number of CEO departures recorded in 2012 to 1,214, which represents a three percent increase over the 1,178 exits recorded in 2011.
The 323 CEO changes announced in the third quarter were up 14.5 percent from the previous quarter. It was the highest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2010 when 378 CEO departures were recorded.
“The increased pace of CEO turnover in the final months of 2012 could be indicative of a turning point in the recovery. We may see heavy turnover continue into 2013 as the economy continues to improve and companies shake up management to reflect a change in strategy from one centered around maintaining stability to one focused on growth and expansion,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.