Robert Nardelli's ouster as chairman and CEO of HomeDepot had the full approval of the board, including the man who had been his biggest supporter--Kenneth Langone, people close to the company told CNBC's Charlie Gasparino.
Langone, the lead shareholder and company co-founder, was actually a major force behind the move, these people said, countering speculation that he had supported Nardelli.
Langone's decision was in reaction to the company's floundering stock price under Nardelli's watch, these people said.
Langone declined repeated requests for comment. His spokesman Jim McCarthy also had no comment.
The move is an about face for Langone. He had personally recruited Nardelli six years ago from General Electric to replace former CEO Arthur Blank, himself a co-founder of the company.
During Nardelli's reign, Langone had been a staunch supporter. He was instrumental in clearing the way for Nardelli's massive salary in 2005 even as shares of the company sagged. The move was a source of criticism from shareholder activists, as CNBC reported, causing the board to consider cutting Nardelli's salary for 2006.
But in recent months, Langone had lost confidence in Nardelli, as did many other investors. As a co-founder, Langone is also one of the largest single holders of HomeDepot stock, and these people say he was personally distressed over the market reaction to news, first reported on CNBC, that private equity had been crunching the numbers on a possibly leveraged buyout of HomeDepot.
Shares of the company spiked on the news of Nardelli's resignation, indicating that the market believed a change in management was needed to jump start the stock.