Chrysler's Nardelli ends another stormy reign

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It was just two years ago that Bob Nardelli stepped down (or was pushed out) as the CEO of Home Depot (HD). Now, as Chrysler files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it's almost time for him to say goodbye once again from the company he's led since August 2007.

I'll cut him some slack for the Chrysler situation though. First, Nardelli signed on to help a company that was already in a downward spiral. Second, he is saying that he was not asked to step down, but decided that he thought it would be appropriate to go once the struggling automaker emerges from bankruptcy protection. Third, Nardelli was was able to steer the company into a partnership deal with Fiat -- a key part of its restructuring plan.

And as Peter Cohan pointed out earlier, it was the hedge funds that ultimately made it impossible for Chrysler to stave off bankruptcy as they rejected a debt reduction deal from Chrysler. President Obama, who said he doesn't "stand with those who held out when everybody else is sacrificing," expects the bankruptcy to be a quick one that will allow the storied automaker to emerge as a stronger company.

During a CNBC interview, Nardelli said, "[Bankruptcy] is something that will allow us to emerge in a leaner fashion." He added that the company "Will be able to leave some assets, liabilities and debt behind."

As a poster boy for excessive CEO pay at home improvement retailer Home Depot, Nardelli received constant criticism for his hefty compensation, especially when the company's stock price started to slip. That plus complaints about his "autonomous" management style led Nardelli to step down in January, 2007. He left with a whopping $210 million severance package.

Prior to joining Home Depot, Nardelli led GE's energy business, quadrupling its revenue. But he left when he lost out on the opportunity to succeed legendary CEO Jack Welch.

Nardelli's next move? In a letter to employees, he wrote that he plans to return to Cerberus Capital Management, Chrysler's major private equity owner since 2007, as an adviser. That should give him some time to regroup from the headaches of dealing with Chrysler until he finds his next CEO gig.

What company do you think Nardelli should lead next?

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