Barnes "on the mend" says interim chairman James Crown

Barnes "on the mend" says interim chairman James Crown

Sara Lee said today (14 June) that chairman and CEO Brenda Barnes, who has been on a temporary medical leave of absence, is recovering from a stroke.

"I know there has been a lot of speculation on my condition, so I want to take the opportunity to provide some details," said Barnes. "I suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, and I am now in the process of recuperating."

The company intends to provide an update on Barnes' condition and her future plans by its end-of-year earnings call on 12 August.

Sara Lee confirmed Barnes was on leave in May but did not at the time divulge further details.

Marcel Smits, executive vice president and CFO, has been acting as interim CEO, since then, and James Crown, lead independent director, assumed the role of chairman.

The company also formed an Office of the Chairman comprising Crown, Smits and CJ Fraleigh, CEO of Sara Lee's North American retail and foodservice division.

"I'm pleased to see how effectively our interim team is performing in executing our ongoing strategy and moving the company forward during my absence," Barnes said. "I'm fully confident in this team and grateful for their expertise and leadership during this time, and also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and support during my absence. It's truly appreciated."

"We're pleased to know that Brenda is on the mend and we wish her a speedy recovery," Crown said. "On behalf of the entire Board of directors, I'd like to thank the dedicated senior leaders at Sara Lee who continue to do an excellent job in Brenda's absence."