Who are the worst chief executives of 2012?
Sydney Finkelstein thinks he knows. The business professor at Dartmouth College in the United States is the author of 11 books with such titles as Why Smart Executives Fail, so he knows a thing or two about the subject. He has been putting out his list for three years; here is his latest (the companies in question declined to comment).
Drum roll, please. Who is Prof Finkelstein's first victim?
Step up, Brian Dunn. Mr Dunn resigned as the chief executive of Best Buy in April after allegations surfaced of an inappropriate relationship with a much younger subordinate. That's not why he's on the list, though. Declining stock price, cratering same-store sales, loss of market share to nimble competitors, and an addiction to share buybacks that cost the company US$6.4 billion (Dh23.5bn) with little to show for it - that's why he's on the list.
And the choice from the energy sector is ...
Aubrey McClendon, the chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, who apparently has trouble keeping his company's finances and his own apart. According to Reuters, Mr McClendon borrowed as much as $1.1bn over three years in undisclosed loans against his stake in thousands of company wells and ran a $200 million oil-and-gas hedge fund on the side. Use of the company jet (and company employees) for personal purposes and a corporate sponsorship deal for the Oklahoma City Thunder while Mr McClendon was an owner of the basketball team also did not help.
And the token woman is ...
Andrea Jung, who stepped down as the chief executive of Avon in April but remains as chairman through the end of this year. Ms Jung has been unable to fix the company's operational problems, failed to groom a successor, and turned down a $10.7bn offer from the beauty-care company Coty. Since 2004, the company's market value under her watch has fallen from $21bn to $6bn.
Surely Prof Finkelstein's list must have a banker.
That would be Rodrigo Rato. He resigned as the chairman of the Spanish lender Bankia in July. Rato is one of Spain's former finance ministers and a former managing director of the IMF. He is under investigation for fraud, price-fixing, and embezzlement in connection with Bankia's spectacular collapse and bailout by the Spanish government. In 2011, Bankia announced profit of €309 million (Dh1.51 billion); after Mr Rato resigned, it was restated to a €3 billion loss.
Let's finish with someone who might not be great but at least is free of allegations of corruption.
Mark Pincus runs Zynga, the company that brought the world Farmville. Mr Pincus has pedigree - he gained a bachelor's degree in economics from Wharton in 1988 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1993. But he has made rookie mistakes, Prof Finkelstein says, including hitching his company's wagon much too securely to Facebook, which Zynga relies on for a big chunk of revenue. Zynga stock fell 74 per cent in 2012, although it has risen 37 per cent so far this year.
* Bloomberg Businessweek