Danone to split CEO and chairman roles

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

The process to recruit a new CEO has been launched and once complete, current chairman and CEO Faber will focus on his role as non-executive chairman.
The process to recruit a new CEO has been launched and once complete, current chairman and CEO Faber will focus on his role as non-executive chairman.

Related tags: Danone

Following a meeting on March 1, Danone's board of directors reviewed the company’s corporate governance and decided, on a proposal from Emmanuel Faber, to separate the functions of chairman and CEO in the near future.

The separation will be effective upon the appointment of a new CEO. The process to recruit a new CEO has been launched and once complete, Faber will focus on his role as non-executive chairman.

In the meantime, Faber will continue as chairman and CEO, with the full confidence and unanimous support of the board to exercise full operational responsibility for the company, and to lead the implementation of the adaptation plan Local First.

The "Local First" adaptation plan, announced last November, aims to unify the management entities in each country, to empower them with greater autonomy, to simplify the decision-making process, to generate savings and to invest to deliver profitable growth. In order to ensure close monitoring, the Danone board decided in December 2020 to strengthen the company's governance to accompany this transformation phase and the strategic review of the portfolio.

In the context of this plan, and upon reflecting on the governance best suited to this new milestone for the company, Danone's management and board of directors have conducted an open dialogue in recent months with shareholders, social partners as well as many other internal and external stakeholders.

Last month, investors led by Daniel J. O'Keefe, Artisan Global Value Strategy lead portfolio manager, and N. David Samra, Artisan International Value Strategy lead portfolio manager, sent an open letter to Gilles Schnepp, lead independent board member elect at Danone, Inc., urging - among other things - the company to split the two roles.

At the same time, and in addition to the announcement of December 14, the board of directors made other changes to continue strengthening Danone’s governance. It has appointed Gilles Schnepp as vice-chairman, together with Cécile Cabanis, and with immediate effect the responsibilities of lead independent director and chairman of the governance committee to Jean-Michel Severino.

Severino, said, “It is an honor to become the next lead independent director of Danone. I have served the company and its mission as board director for the last 10 years as member of the CSR committee and then chair of the audit committee. I thank the board for entrusting me with this role, which will be of critical importance in the transition phase we are entering. I also look forward to being in charge of continuing a fruitful dialogue with our shareholders.”

Faber said, “I am pleased we took the governance arrangements that will allow us to anticipate the next phase of development of the truly unique company Danone is, as we open, with our Local First plan, a new step towards the company’s reinvention. I want to thank all our shareholders, my colleagues of the board, our employees and social partners who contributed to making these decisions emerge. I am convinced they will make the execution of our plan and our mission much stronger.”

Related topics: Manufacturers, Danone

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