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New Year Hurdles: Top 10 Challenges for CEOs in 2011

With the recession over -- in a sense, anyway -- some CEOs are just happy to still be standing. After three years of turmoil, there's even cautious optimism about the year ahead. But for those whose job is to steer a company to profits and growth, there are plenty of worries ahead. Here's our list of top CEO challenges for 2011.

Obama Meeting With 20 Top CEOs

President Barack Obama will meet with 20 top CEOs today as he seeks to improve relations with the business community. The invitation list largely shuns Wall Street in favor of high-flying tech companies. Eric Schmidt of Google (GOOG) will be there, as will Paul Otellini of Intel (INTC), according to CNN.

CEO Departures in November Fall to Year's Lowest Level

Though the job market remains challenging, for one group, the labor market was at its steadiest of the year last month. The number of chief executives departing their jobs fell to 79 in November, the lowest monthly number of 2010, according to job-services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Undercover Boss Steven Foster Rolls With the Punches

Steven Foster, CEO of upscale bowling chain Lucky Strike Entertainment, was hands down the most easy-going 'Undercover Boss' yet. The hit CBS reality show is still as phony as the toupee he had to wear, but the episode was fun, and Foster, who founded the Lucky Strike, doesn't need to prove anything to anybody.

Private College Presidents Rake in Millions of Dollars

Bernard Lander, founder of Touro College, received compensation of more than $4 million in 2008, making him the top-paid private college president that year. Touro trustees awarded the money to Lander after deciding he had been underpaid during his tenure as president, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Lander died in February, aged 94.

Fewer CEOs Headed for the Exit in October

The number of chief executive officers leaving their posts in October fell to its lowest level in 18 months, according to a new report released today. The drop seems to show that the volatile job market, at least among corporate chiefs, appears to be stabilizing.

Occidental Petroleum Names Stephen Chazen as CEO

Occidental Petroleum (OXY) promoted COO Stephen Chazen to the position of CEO, effective May 2011. Chazen will replace Ray Irani, who will continue as full-time executive chairman, the company said in a statement.

Blockbuster Considers Switching CEO

Blockbuster, (BBICP) the movie-rental chain that filed for bankruptcy last month, may have a new CEO by the end of the year. The company has agreed to hire a headhunter to look for new blood once it emerges from bankruptcy protection, The Wall Street Journal said without naming its sources.

Why Chris Silva Left the Courtroom for the Winery

The former lawyer who dealt with financial and real estate litigation and trials explains how -- and why -- he joined St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma, Calif., where he's now CEO and guiding it through the current economic downturn.

United-Continental Merger Lands Execs a Big Pay Raise

Considering how often airline industry executives complain about how hard it is to run a profitable carrier, one might expect their efforts could go unrewarded -- at least monetarily. Not so at the new United Continental Holdings, where big post-merger raises are coming for top management.

Campbell Soup CEO Conant to Step Down

Campbell Soup Company (CPB) CEO Douglas Conant will step down on July 31, 2011 after more than a decade in the post. Denise Morrison, currently the president of the company%u2019s North American soup, sauces and beverage unit, is expected to succeed Conant, Reuters reported. Morrison has been appointed chief operating officer, effective October 1.

HP Forecasts a Healthy 2011; No Hints on New CEO

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) forecast healthy growth in earnings and sales for fiscal 2011, as the company expands into consulting and computer security services. The company gave no hints as to who its new CEO may be, almost two months after Mark Hurd stepped down following allegations of abusing his expense account.

Hurd's Salary as Oracle President: $950,000

Mark Hurd will receive an annual salary of $950,000 and a bonus of as much as $10 million for fiscal 2011 in his new position as president of Oracle (ORCL), according to a regulatory filing. Hurd, who resigned as CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) last month over allegations of falsified expense claims, will also have the option to buy 10 million shares in Oracle, and a further 5 million shares in each of the next five years.

BMW Aims to Boost Sales to 2 Million Units a Year

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG aims to boost sales to more than 2 million a year by 2020 by widening the 6-series and Mini model lines as well as bringing in a battery-powered car for city driving. BMW, which sold 1.29 million cars last year, is trying to fend off competition in the luxury car segment from Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Audi, Bloomberg News reported.

Barclays Appoints Robert Diamond as CEO

British bank Barclays PLC (BSC) appointed Robert Diamond Jr. as CEO, according to The Wall Street Journal. Diamond is currently the head of Barclay%u2019s investment banking business. He will replace John Varley, who will step down on March 31, The Wall Street Journal said.

Lawyers: New CEO Pay Disclosure Rule a 'Logistical Nightmare'

A new rule forcing U.S. companies to disclose the ratio between their chief executive%u2019s pay and that of the typical employee is a "logistical nightmare%u201D", lawyers say. "It%u2019s just not do-able for a large company with tens of thousands of employees worldwide," Richard Susko, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb told The Financial Times.

BHP Billiton Warns It Won't Buy Potash Corp 'At Any Cost'

BHP Billiton (BHP), the world%u2019s largest mining company, warned that it is not willing to buy Potash Corp (POT) "at any cost." CEO Marius Kloppers made the warning after announcing bumper profits for the first half of the year, Reuters reported.

3M May Spend $2 Billion on Acquisitions This Year

Office supply maker 3M Co (MMM) may double its planned spending on acquisitions to $2 billion this year as it aims to boost its oversea operations. "We told Wall Street that we would spend probably a billion dollars or north of that," CEO George Buckley told Reuters. "It could be double that number by the time the year is out."

HP Appoints Spencer Stuart to Help Find New CEO

Technology company Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) appointed executive search firm Spencer Stuart to handle all activities involved in the search for a new CEO. The company will consider internal as well as external candidates, HP said in a statement. The board appointed John Hammergren as chair of the search committee. The committee also includes Marc Andreessen, Lawrence Babbio Jr, and Joel Hyatt.

Quarter of Votes Withheld as Michael Dell Reelected Company CEO

Michael Dell, founder and CEO of computer maker Dell Inc. (DELL), was reelected to the company%u2019s board with over 25% of the votes withholding support, as investor hostility to his tenure mounts. At a meeting on Aug. 12, 377.8 million out of 1.5 billion votes withheld support for Michael Dell, Reuters reported. Of the 11 directors that were reelected, Michael Dell received the least votes in favor of his election.

Details Emerge on Former HP CEO Sexual Harassment Allegation

Details have emerged of the sexual harassment allegations that led to the resignation of former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd. Jodie Fisher, the former HP marketing contractor who made the allegation, claimed she lost work from the company because she did not have sex with Hurd, Reuters reported without naming its sources.

GM's Fate Now Rests on
Daniel Akerson's Shoulders

Akerson will need to convince shareholders that GM, which is only a year out of bankruptcy and has posted just two profitable quarters, is a worthy investment. He'll also have to make sure the carmaker's dramatic turnaround is built to last.

Ed Whitacre to Step Down as GM CEO on Sept. 1

During GM's earnings call, Whitacre announced that he'll step down next month as CEO of the country's largest automaker. Daniel Akerson, a GM board member and former chief exec at privately held XO Communications, will assume the top role.