Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson leaves at short notice

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After almost 24 years in the position
  • Accolades, praise and thanks for Hudson
  • Claudia San Pedro taking over
  • Hudson said 127 words

(exechange) — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 7, 2018 — Cliff Hudson, chief executive of Sonic, leaves. It is a change at short notice. As announced by Sonic Corp. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, J.Clifford (Cliff) Hudson leaves his post as Chief Executive Officer at the chain of drive-in restaurants after almost 24 years in the role, effective in December.

It is the end of an era.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9.1 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 9 percent of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months left the position after more than 20 years.

Cliff Hudson’s duties will be taken over by Claudia S. San Pedro, currently President of Sonic Corp., as President.

No reason given

In the announcement, Sonic did not explicitly explain the reason for Cliff Hudson’s imminent move, leaving room for speculation.

Precise information about Cliff Hudson’s future plans was not immediately available.


Sonic said: “Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cliff Hudson, will retire and that President Claudia San Pedro will lead the company, effective as of the closing of Sonic’s proposed acquisition by Inspire Brands …, which is expected to occur in December, subject to shareholder approval.”

Share price rise since April 2012

The change follows a rise in the share price of Sonic Corp. since April 2012.

In the position of CEO since 1995

Clifford Hudson has served as the Company’s Chairman of the Board since January 2000 and Chief Executive Officer since April 1995.

Hudson served as President of the Company from April 1995 to January 2000 and reassumed the position of President from November 2004 until May 2008, April 2013 until January 2016 and again March 2017 to the present.

He has served in various other offices with the Company since 1984.

Hudson has served on the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation since January 2006 and on the Board of Trustees of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from January 2001 until 2011, where he served as its Chairman from 2008 until 2011.

He served as Chairman of the Board of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, the federally chartered organization which serves as the insurer of customer accounts with brokerage firms, from 1994 to 2001.

Hudson will assist with the transition, serving as Senior Advisor to Sonic until March 2019.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Cliff Hudson’s imminent move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 46.2018 ($).