Kraft boss bumps Pepsi chief as top U.S. woman exec

Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:32am EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kraft Foods KFT.N boss Irene Rosenfeld is the most powerful woman in U.S. business, Fortune magazine said on Thursday, bumping PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N: Quote) chief Indra Nooyi into second spot after five years on top.

The 14th annual ranking was determined by the size and importance of the woman's business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman's career and her social and cultural relevance.

"Rosenfeld made a big show of power this year with her decision to split Kraft into two companies, a reversal of her previous strategy of expanding through acquisitions," Fortune magazine said of the Kraft chief executive, who led a hostile $18 billion takeover of Britain's Cadbury last year.

"On Nooyi's watch, PepsiCo has forged further into nutrition-focused products," Fortune said. "But Nooyi has been criticized for taking her eye off the core North American soda business, which has lost share to Coke."

Nooyi was the only woman in the top 10 most powerful to be among the top 10 highest paid, coming in at No. 9 after earning $14 million last year. The highest paid woman was Oracle ORCL.O President Safra Catz with $42 million.

Just a week after being appointed chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N: Quote), Meg Whitman -- who was chief executive of eBay Inc (EBAY.O: Quote) until 2008 and last year ran a failed bid to become governor of California -- returned to the ranking of the top 50 most powerful business women at No. 9.

"While her ascent to the role is a sure sign of her power, it remains to be seen if she can fix the computer maker and bring order to its dysfunctional board," Fortune said.

Whitman filled a top 10 vacancy left by the firing over the phone last month of Yahoo Inc YHOO.O Chief Executive Carol Bartz, who has now dropped off the Fortune list.   Continued...

<p>Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Chairman and Chief Executive speaks to Reuters during a interview in Paris May 21, 2010. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen</p>