Wal-Mart veteran McMillon to replace Duke as CEO next year

Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:32pm EST
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By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) has named company veteran Doug McMillon to be its next chief executive, in a bet that his experience running its international unit will bolster growth at the retailer, the world's largest.

He will take the reins at a time sales growth in the United States is tepid and the company is trying to improve profitability at its international stores.

McMillon, 47, who has spent his whole career at Wal-Mart, was widely considered by Wall Street investors to be the front runner to succeed CEO Mike Duke, 63.

Since January 2009, he has headed Walmart International, the company's second-largest operating unit. Prior to that, he was CEO of the company's retail warehouse chain, Sam's Club.

"McMillon has done just about every job there is (at Wal-Mart)," said Joe Feldman, analyst with Telsey Advisory Group. "He's a good fit culturally and, as a young 47-year-old, there's an opportunity to be there for a long time," he said.

The retailer's shares closed up 0.8 percent to $80.43, an all time high.

McMillon, who has also worked at Walmart U.S., the company's biggest division, has long been believed to have the support of the Walton family, which controls almost half of the company's shares, according to Cowen & Co analyst Faye Landes.

"This was McMillon's to lose," said Telsey's Feldman.   Continued...

Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, speaks at the annual shareholders meeting for Walmart in Fayetteville, Arkansas in this file photo from June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files