Gary Wendt has stepped down from his position as CEO of Conseco, Inc.. He will stay on as chairman of the board but has handed management of the firm over to Bill Shea, Conseco’s president and COO.

Wendt joined Conseco in June 2000 to turn the company around and create a "new Conseco." The company dubbed the effort the "Conseco Restoration Plan." In 2000, he expressed unguarded optimism about the company’s future potential, saying, "In 2000, Conseco is a turnaround stock; in 2001 it will be an EPS [earnings per share] stock."

Indeed, while Conseco celebrated the end of 2000 with Wendt stating in a memo, "We did battle; we survived; we’re positioned to thrive; and we like what we have to work with!" Nevertheless, the company faltered, reporting a net loss of $96.9 million for the first quarter of this year. Last quarter, the company reported a net loss of $1.3 billion.

The announcement of Wendt’s capitulation came 12 days before that deadline.

In August, Conseco announced that it would consider going bankrupt if its bank agreements did not pan out. Over the past several months, Conseco has teetered on the brink of debt default, first relying on a 30-day grace period, and now nearing the end of a temporary bank waiver that expires on October 15.

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