Danone has confirmed Emmanuel Faber will add the position of chairman to his role as CEO.
Earlier this week, Le Monde reported the French food giant would make the move, with Franck Riboud, the company’s current chairman and one-time CEO, leaving the business. At the time, the Activia-to-Alpro maker declined to comment.
Yesterday afternoon (18 October), Danone announced Faber would hold the two roles from 1 December. Riboud, who has worked at the business for more than two decades, is to become honorary chairman.
Faber was promoted from Danone deputy CEO in 2014 to replace Riboud. At the time, Danone said Riboud wanted “to concentrate on the key strategic issues facing Danone in the medium and long term and to lay the groundwork for a smooth succession”.
Riboud was given what Danone called “enhanced powers” in his role as chairman. The board decided to expand the duties held by a chairman at the company in order to, it said at the time, “ensure that Danone continues to benefit from Franck Riboud’s insights and in-depth knowledge of its markets, corporate culture and business environment”. That move, Danone said at the time, would “leave the powers of the board of directors and the CEO unchanged, but will enable the chairman and the CEO to work in concertation on major issues in Danone’s corporate life”.
Danone’s board also voted to set up a new “strategy committee”, on which the new CEO Faber would sit but which would be headed by Riboud.
In Danone’s 2016 annual report, published in March this year, it stated the “transition period” of Riboud holding the extra responsibilities “should be completed in 2017, after which time [he] will carry out his duties by exercising the traditional rights of a board chairman”.
Three years after Faber replaced Riboud as CEO, he will now succeed him as chairman of Danone, with Riboud handed the role of “honorary chairman”.
Riboud said yesterday: “Today’s announcement reflects the culmination of a planned leadership transition process that I initiated for Danone’s top management three years ago and that has allowed the company, under Emmanuel Faber’s leadership, to enter a new development phase.
“Combining the chairman and CEO roles will solidify this momentum, creating a direct bridge between the board and management that will enable the company to continue to execute on its strategy, speak with a unified voice and make decisions in an agile and transparent manner. I am proud and privileged to have chaired the board for the past 23 years of growth and I am confident about the future of this truly unique and world-class company.”
Faber said he was “honoured” to take on the role of chairman. “With the full support of the board, we will continue to create shareholder value by remaining focused on our 2020 objectives and driving strong, sustainable, profitable growth across our categories,” he added.
Danone, meanwhile, also announced a new “streamlined” executive committee. On the committee will sit CFO Cécile Cabanis; Bertrand Austruy, Danone’s executive vice president for human resources and its general secretary; Paco Camacho, the EVP for the company’s essential dairy and plant-based products business; Henri Bruxelles, who joins the committee as EVP for the group’s waters arm and its operations in Africa; and Bridgette Heller, its EVP for early life nutrition and advanced medical nutrition.