For chief executive officers in 2012, it was a year of looking over their shoulders. More big-name chief executives lost their jobs than in any year in recent memory, as investors and boards became much more assertive. The lesson going into 2013 is clear: If you can’t perform, we will find someone else who will.
Richard Gusella, Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd.
Mr. Gusella opposed selling the company, putting him on the wrong side of some of the company’s largest shareholders. After that, he didn't last long, resigning in early January. Connacher is still trying to make a go of it as an independent company.
(Chris Bolin for The Globe and Mail)
Robert Dutton, Rona Inc.
The hardware retailer pushed out its long-time chief executive in a bid to turn around years of declining fortunes, and possibly head off a proxy battle with disgruntled shareholders. It doesn’t seem to have worked, as the board still faces a challenge from one of the company’s biggest investors.
Fred Green, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.
Activist investor Bill Ackman made Fred Green the poster child for CP’s chronic underperfomance, launching a campaign to have him turfed and replaced by veteran railroader Hunter Harrison. When the board balked, Mr. Ackman rallied enough votes to turf recalcitrant directors. Mr. Green was not far behind.
(Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Aaron Regent, Barrick Gold Corp.
Mr. Regent’s departure in the summer was nearly a total shock to investors. Unlike Mr. Burt at Kinross, there had not been a groundswell from investors unhappy with his performance. But one key person at Barrick was unhappy: founder and director Peter Munk.
(Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Tye Burt, Kinross Gold Corp.
A huge writedown on a landmark acquisition and a slumping share price cost Mr. Burt, a former investment banker, his job running Canada’s third largest gold producer. Since Mr. Burt was tossed out, the stock has been moving up.
John Manzoni, Talisman Energy Inc.
Mr. Manzoni got five years to try to turn around Talisman, an a company best known for producing oil in far flung locales, and often not particularly well. When he did not produce enough results, the board made the change, before any shareholder revolt got rolling.