Just weeks after Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG) and Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM) took possession of J.C. Penney's assets in bankruptcy court, the mall operators announced the department store chain would be looking for a new CEO.

Jill Soltau, who took over the position about two years ago after Marvin Ellison jumped ship for the CEO job at Lowe's (NYSE:LOW), is leaving the company effective today. 

While the retailer's new owners didn't provide a reason for Soltau's departure, the company did say it wanted to find a new leader who would be "focused on modern retail, the consumer experience, and the goal of creating a sustainable and enduring JCPenney."

People going through a revolving door

Image source: Getty Images.

Soltau had the unenviable task of trying to pull the retailer out of the death spiral it was locked into due to various missteps by her predecessors. While the fixes they attempted were logical, they often exacerbated the customer flight the department store suffered from.

Soltau, who came to J.C. Penney from Jo-Ann Stores, was well paid for her efforts, and that could be one reason there's a vacancy. She received a $6 million signing bonus and a $1.4 million base salary. Last year, she also had the chance to earn a bonus of as much as 150% of her base salary, or some $2.1 million, while also receiving $3.75 million in stock awards and $4.48 million in incentives for a total compensation package valued at $9.7 million. That's a lot of money for a retailer that continued to swirl down the drain.

Simon Property Group's chief investment officer, Stanley Shashoua, will take over as interim CEO, and the new owners are temporarily establishing an office of the CEO consisting of J.C. Penney's existing management team.

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