Aussie shareholders lose $8Bn from unplanned CEO turnover

Incoming female CEOs triple from 1 to 3. Remains disappointing.

ASX200 CEO tenure up to 5 years. Still lagging behind Global term in office.

Sydney, November 26, 2015 – Thirty-five of the ASX 200 companies saw a turnover in Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2014, almost 35 percent more than the global average, including 8 forced succession events which cost $8 billion in foregone shareholder value, PwC’s Strategy& 15th annual study of chief executive succession released today reveals.

The $8 billion in lost shareholder value is comprised of a loss leading up to a CEO turnover (-5.5 percent), as well as the year after the change (-11.4 percent). This is between two to three times the erosion in shareholder value compared to top global firms.

The number of incoming female CEOs in Australia also remains low despite tripling since 2013 – from one to three. However, the female Australian CEO representation at 8.3 percent still beats the low global average of 5.2 percent of incoming hires.

“This continues the trend we observed in last year’s study of a slowly increasing share of female CEOs in Australia, which remains at unfortunately low levels,” Strategy& partner and report co-author Varya Davidson said.

“Interestingly, female CEOs in Australia are more often outside appointments rather than internal promotes. 70 percent of women appointed to CEO roles over the 8 years from 2007 through 2014 were outside appointments compared with 40 percent of men.”

Other key findings from the study of the 2,500 largest public companies in the world include:

  • 77 percent of CEO successions in Australia were planned, significantly lower than the global average of 86 percent
  • Leading Australian companies were subject to approximately 35 percent more CEO turnover events than global leading enterprises
  • The incoming class of CEOs in top Australian companies was amongst the youngest globally, with a median age of 51. Globally it is 52
  • 19 percent of incoming CEOs in Australia came from another region making Australia’s newest CEOs significantly more diverse than the global average of 11 percent

“There is a promising improvement in CEO tenure – which is up 15 percent from 2013 and is now 5 years,” Ms Davidson pointed out.

“This is about 10 percent more than the long run Australian median tenure, but still less than the Global median tenure of 5.3 years, highlighting room for improvement in Australia.”

“When planning succession, Australian boards must institutionalise the process, factor in the advantages of diversity, and take formal steps to increase CEO tenure – or risk becoming poor prospects to local investors compared with better prepared Global leading institutions.”

“These decisions at board level are critical. Boards must be proactively involved in CEO succession planning and ensure that the markets are aware of their intentions and visibly show that they are not surprised into forced action.”

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