PulteGroup’s Founder Was Asked for Candidates to Replace CEO

  • Bill Pulte says Dugas had plan for Ryan Marshall as successor
  • Names ‘will be given appropriate consideration,’ director says

PulteGroup Inc.’s founder and largest shareholder, who has called on Chief Executive Officer Richard Dugas to resign immediately, said the homebuilder’s board has invited him to suggest candidates for replacements.

Bill Pulte, who has about 8.9 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, said in a letter to the board Wednesday that director Patrick O’Leary offered to accept his suggestions for a successor to Dugas, who announced plans to retire next year.

Pulte, who has complained that Dugas is responsible for the departures of talented executives, overly aggressive land purchases before the housing crash and stock underperformance, said the new CEO should have homebuilding experience across multiple U.S. markets. Pulte called for “tangible results” from the search no later than July 31.

“Time is of the essence and it is imperative that the company, its shareholders and its employees not be left in suspense regarding PulteGroup’s leadership,” Pulte wrote.

‘Pre-Conceived’ Plan

Pulte said Dugas told him in March that “he had a pre-conceived succession plan” for the company’s president, Ryan Marshall, to take over as CEO.

“It is essential that the members of the special committee and the executive search firm to be fair, truly independent and highly transparent for a valid and unbiased search,” Pulte wrote.

A spokesman for the company, Jim Zeumer, didn’t respond to calls or e-mails seeking comment on the letter.

“The individuals you have submitted will be given appropriate consideration,” O’Leary wrote in a June 9 letter to Pulte, filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “You can be assured that the committee and the board plan to run a thorough, but highly confidential search process. As such, I want to be upfront in saying that it is the role of the board to select PulteGroup’s next CEO, so your involvement must be limited to this request for candidate names.”

PulteGroup rose 1.7 percent to $18.91 at 1:42 p.m. New York time. The shares have fallen 2.4 percent in the past 12 months.

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