Home Depot ( HD) CEO Bob Nardelli, who has faced criticism in recent months for his leadership of the tool and housing-goods seller, is leaving the company.

A statement from Home Depot said that Nardelli would vacate his position as chairman, president and chief executive and be replaced by Frank Blake, the company's current vice chairman and executive vice president, effective immediately.

Nardelli has been under increasing fire for some of his recent decisions, such as planning a giant stock buyback rather than improving stores and customer service. The company has defended the moves of its management, making Wednesday's announcement all the more unexpected.

As Nardelli departs, he'll be doing so with a handsome compensation package valued at roughly $210 million, including a cash severance payment of $20 million. Because Home Depot's stock has flagged as Nardelli has continued to grow richer, his final payments from the company will likely be a point of contention.

Relational Investors, an activist fund and Home Depot shareholder, has been pushing the company to re-evaluate its direction and examine its alternatives. Relational has been wanting Home Depot's board to create a special committee to mull a corporate restructuring or a partial or complete sale of the company.

Shares of Home Depot, a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, tacked on 7 cents to $40.23 in premarket trading.

To view Jim Cramer's video take of this column, click here .

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