Express Scripts CFO Eric Slusser leaves post abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After about two years in the position
  • Praise for Slusser
  • Jim Havel taking over

(exechange) — St. Louis, Missouri, October 24, 2017 — Eric Slusser, finance chief of Express Scripts, leaves the position. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Express Scripts Holding Company in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Eric R. Slusser leaves the post as Chief Financial Officer at the pharmacy benefit manager after about two years in the position, effective October 25, 2017.

No company wants a CFO to flame out in the first years.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, only 36 percent of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months left within three years. Overall, the average tenure of those who left was 5.6 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Slusser’s move comes 18 months after Tim Wentworth took over as CEO of Express Scripts Holding Company.

Eric Slusser will stay with the Company through the first quarter of 2018 “in order to ensure a smooth transition”.

Slusser’s duties are taken over by Jim Havel, most recently Executive Vice President, Finance at Express Scripts Holding Company.

“To pursue other opportunities”

The sudden management change is explained as follows. Express Scripts said: “Mr. Slusser will continue his employment with the Company in a different role through the first quarter of 2018, in order to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition, after which he will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.”

The phrase “to pursue other opportunities” opens the door to speculation.

Precise information about the future plans of Slusser was not immediately available.

Wake-up call

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CFO leaves the post abruptly and without comprehensible reasons being given.

“Will no longer serve”

Express Scripts said: “As part of that transition, effective as of October 25, 2017, Eric Slusser will no longer serve in the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer or as principal financial officer of the Company.”

“Not the result of any issue, concern or disagreement”

“Mr. Slusser’s separation from the Company is not the result of any issue, concern or disagreement with the Company’s accounting, financial reporting or internal control over financial reporting,” Express Scripts said.

It is a phrase that may be intended to prevent false rumors. It may also fuel further speculation and raise more questions than it answers. Such a phrase should be read very carefully. The exact wording may be insightful.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Express Scripts Holding Company since July 2015.

Chaired by George Paz

Express Scripts Holding Company is chaired by George Paz.

CEO: Tim Wentworth

Tim Wentworth serves as CEO of Express Scripts Holding Company. Timothy C. Wentworth serves as the President at Express Scripts Holding Company since February 1, 2014 and Chief Executive Officer since May 4, 2016.

In the position of CFO since 2015

Slusser served as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Express Scripts Holding Company since September 9, 2015.

Eric Slusser joined Express Scripts in September 2015.

He was responsible for overseeing all financial activities and partnering with senior management to develop and lead the company’s strategic direction.

Within Slusser’s responsibilities were capital allocation, business development, competitive intelligence, financial planning and analysis, controllership, treasury, risk and insurance, and investor relations.

He was also responsible for the Company’s business in Canada, the Company’s procurement organization and the Company’s enterprise project management office.

Prior to joining Express Scripts, Slusser most recently served as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Gentiva Health Services.

He also held executive roles with other healthcare services companies including Centene Corporation and Cardinal Health, Inc.

Slusser, who is a certified public accountant, spent 10 years in finance leadership roles within the telecommunications industry and 12 years in public accounting.

Slusser reported to Tim Wentworth.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Eric Slusser’s sudden move.

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

Read the full story in the exechange report 44.2017 ($).