Ex-AutoNation CEO Won't Return After Medical Leave -- WSJ
By Nora Naughton
This article is being republished as part of our daily
reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S.
print edition of The Wall Street Journal (July 15, 2020).
AutoNation Inc., the U.S.'s largest dealership chain, said
Tuesday its former Chief Executive Officer Cheryl Miller won't
return to the company from a three-month medical leave, making her
the second chief executive to exit from the top job in about a
The company's longtime chairman Mike Jackson will fill the CEO
role permanently, with the board extending his contract through
Ms. Miller, named CEO in July of 2019, went on leave in April
for health reasons that the company hasn't disclosed. She took over
last year from former chief executive Carl Liebert, who left
abruptly after four months on the job, and during her short tenure
in the top position, expanded the company's partnership with Waymo,
the driverless-car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc.
Mr. Jackson, 71, led the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company as CEO
for nearly two decades before stepping down at the start of 2019.
An outspoken figure in the auto industry, Mr. Jackson is credited
with expanding the dealership chain into an auto-retailing giant,
with more than 300 stores in 18 states.
Mr. Jackson is extending his tenure as the U.S. auto industry
has been hit hard by the state lockdowns and economic fallout of
the Covid-19 pandemic.
U.S. car sales in the second quarter were off about one-third
from the prior-year period. While business is showing some signs of
recovery, analysts expect vehicle demand will remain depressed for
much of the remainder of the year.
In a cost-cutting move, AutoNation in April said it would
furlough 7,000 workers and cut executive pay, and it postponed more
than $50 million in capital expenditures.
While some of those positions could return as the economy
improves, many positions will be permanently eliminated as
AutoNation improves its online retail offerings, a company
spokesman has said.
AutoNation said Tuesday its board has extended Mr. Jackson's
contract as chairman and CEO through spring of 2022, at which time
it will name a successor. The company said Mr. Jackson will retire
with the appointment of a new CEO.
"While it removes some uncertainty around outgoing CEO Cheryl
Miller's potential return, we are surprised that the company does
not have a plan for a suitable replacement for CEO Mike Jackson
until 2022," J.P. Morgan analyst Rajat Gupta wrote in a research
The 48-year-old Ms. Miller was the first female CEO of a
publicly traded auto-dealership chain and had previously served as
the company's chief financial officer.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 15, 2020 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)
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