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Joel Gemunder (CEO): Omnicare

Why this quit is big: Joel Gemunder has been at the helm of elder-care giant Omnicare since 1981, steering it to be a $6 billion industry leader. His retirement, accompanied by the simultaneous retirement of SVP Cheryl Hodges, and coming closely on the heels of COO Patrick Keefe’s departure, sent stock prices tumbling 10% at the time. Such change in the midst of navigating the most wide-sweeping healthcare insurance reform will certainly challenge the new executive team. Gemunder commented that in retirement “he will focus on the next stage of his life, his family and charitable interests.” He will receive a severance package worth about $130 million in cash and stock.

Why it’s not as big as our Top 10: Despite that a significant figure in the healthcare industry departed along with a good portion of his executive team, given Gemunder’s age, 71, his retirement was imminent. An Omnicare spokesperson released that Gemunder’s departure was in the works for years and will be methodically carried out. Also, Omnicare recently settled a $98 million Justice Department suit alleging that the company paid kickbacks to nursing homes for buying and prescribing certain drugs. Lastly, departures announced prior to earnings calls are often an indication of poor performance, and Omnicare did see a decline in profits of $20 million compared to 2Q09.

Bernard-Kuhn, Lisa. “Omnicare CEO Joel Gemunder Resigns Ahead of Earnings News.” 2 August 2010.