Generating Support for CEO Succession

A long-time chairman and CEO plans to retire. The company communicates a smooth transition to the financial community, generating strong support.

Client Challenge

Effectively communicate the CEO’s transition to the financial community in order to alleviate investor uncertainty and garner support for the successor.

After more than four decades of service and two decades as chairman and CEO of the company his father had founded, a CEO was ready to retire. The board of directors had prepared a succession plan for several years. It had already tapped his successor but now needed to communicate the transition in an orderly manner, to address uncertainty about the change and build investor support for the new CEO.

Sharon Merrill Approach

Systematic planning and communications through a series of disclosures and introductions

Sharon Merrill implemented a systematic approach, designing a series of press releases to announce the successor’s hiring as Chief Operating Officer, the board’s plan to appoint him as CEO upon the current CEO’s retirement and finally, the eventual retirement of the long-time chief executive. The firm also included the successor on earnings conference calls and at investor conferences as COO well in advance of his appointment to CEO. Sharon Merrill also orchestrated the unveiling of his new strategic plan for the company at an investor day event two months after his term as CEO began. The goal of the communications strategy was to present a thoughtful, orderly transition and establish investor relationships with the new CEO before he entered the position.


Overwhelming investor support of the new CEO and his new corporate growth strategy

Sharon Merrill’s communications plan generated overwhelmingly positive support for the CEO from the investment community. He received high marks following his coming-out party at the investor day, with both the buy side and sell side supporting his strategic vision. Following the investor day, multiple sell-side analysts committed to initiating coverage of the stock. In the six months following the announcement of the new CEO, the stock price increased 16%.

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