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PulteGroup CEO plans retirement, as founder seeks change

PulteGroup Chairman and CEO Richard J. Dugas Jr. will retire next year, a decision the homebuilder attributes in part to a leadership change demanded by the company’s founder and his grandson.

But in a letter to the company’s board Monday, founder Bill Pulte wrote that Dugas’ retirement plan “falls far short of the short-term leadership change that PulteGroup shareholders and PulteGroup employees need.” He also criticized the company for saying Monday that it won’t nominate Jim Grosfeld, Pulte’s former chairman and CEO, to stay on the board.

Dugas has served as CEO since 2003 and chairman of the company’s board since 2009. The Atlanta-based company said Monday that Dugas decided to retire in May 2017, due in part to the actions of founder Bill Pulte; his grandson, also named Bill Pulte; and Grosfeld, who was appointed to the board in December at the founder’s request.

PulteGroup Inc. said Bill Pulte, who founded the company in 1950, and Grosfeld had recently demanded an immediate CEO change and a different direction for the company.

The homebuilder said Dugas offered to accelerate the board’s succession plan to avoid a “public battle that would not be in the interests of shareholders.”

PulteGroup operates in about 50 markets around the country. Its brands include Centex, Pulte Homes, Del Webb and DiVosta Homes.

Company shares fell $1.21, or 6.6 per cent, to close at $17.21 Monday. The stock has declined 24 per cent in the past 12 months.

PulteGroup will report first quarter earnings on April 21.

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This story has been corrected to show that Jim Grosfeld is not Bill Pulte’s grandson, who is also named Bill Pulte.