Nestle Chairman says succession announcement expected this year

Thu Jun 2, 2016 1:53pm EDT
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By Silke Koltrowitz

VEVEY, Switzerland (Reuters) - Nestle (NESN.S: Quote) is looking at internal and external candidates to lead the world's largest food and drink company and will announce its choice for a new chairman before the end of the year, its current chairman said on Thursday.

The election of a new leader next year is an opportunity to shake up the Swiss company just as the global packaged food industry faces a slew of challenges from changing consumer tastes and greater competition.

Speaking at the company's headquarters in Vevey on Lake Geneva, Chairman Peter Brabeck told Reuters that Nestle also uses external candidates to benchmark internal ones.

"It's a task of the nomination committee not to look only internally, but also externally, because it is also important to be able to compare if our internal candidates are competitive in the current environment," Brabeck said on the sidelines of the festivities for the company's 150th anniversary.

He said the board's nomination committee meets at least three times a year to discuss succession planning, and has plans for both emergency and long-term succession.

"We obviously always have several candidates for long-term planning," said Brabeck, who recently recovered from cancer and will soon reach the mandatory retirement age of 72.

Earlier on Thursday, Swiss newspaper Blick quoted Brabeck as saying current Chief Executive Paul Bulcke was among several candidates to succeed him, and that there was also more than one possible candidate to succeed Bulcke.

While the CEO runs the company, the chairman provides strategic guidance. Nestle's last four chiefs, whose collective CEO tenure lasted 40 years, all became chairmen.   Continued...

Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe listens to a question during a dialogue session at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip