Discussion paper

DP10985 How costly is corporate bankruptcy for the CEO?

We examine CEO career and compensation changes for firms filing for Chapter 11. One-third of the incumbent CEOs maintain executive employment, and these CEOs experience a median compensation change of zero. However, incumbent CEOs leaving the executive labor market suffer a compensation loss with a median present value until age 65 of $7 million (five times pre-departure compensation). The likelihood of leaving decreases with profitability and CEO share ownership. Furthermore, creditor control rights during bankruptcy (through debtor-in-possession financing and large trade credits) appear to effect CEO career change. Despite large equity losses (median $11 million for incumbents who stay until filing), the median incumbent does not reduce his stock ownership as the firm approaches bankruptcy.


Eckbo, B and K Thorburn (2015), ‘DP10985 How costly is corporate bankruptcy for the CEO?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 10985. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10985