Andrea Jung, Longtime Avon CEO, to Step Down in 2012

It’s official. Andrea Jung is stepping down as chief executive of Avon, ending her 12-year term as the longest-serving female executive at the top of a Fortune 500 company.

The struggling door-to-door cosmetics company said Tuesday it has launched a search for CEO candidates outside the company. Once it settles on one, Ms. Jung will step aside and serve solely as the organization’s full-time executive chairman.

Jung currently serves as both chairman and CEO at Avon.

According to the NY Post, Avon’s move follows a disastrous October earnings report, in which the company admitted it faces two probes by regulators: one over its communications with analysts and a second on allegations that it broke bribery laws overseas.

At the time, Jung was asked by analysts:

“Why should investors believe management and the board have any control over the business at this point?” asked Mark Astrachan of Stifel Nicolaus.

Citigroup analyst Wendy Nicholson chimed in saying the company is “so totally screwed up in so many ways, the change has to be radical”.

Jung replied: “Look, the buck stops with me.”

“When a company is under scrutiny like this, it helps to have separation of roles,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance, explained, commenting on Jung’s decision to step down. “She will be able to provide continuity and work on the transition.”

Following the announcement of Andrea Jung’s demotion, Avon shares rose 6.4 percent in after-hours trading after falling by almost half this year.

via Bloomberg