Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, is to name its new chief executive tomorrow (20 September).

Current chairman and CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is to step down as chief executive but will remain as a “non-executive but active” chairman, a Nestlé spokesman told just-food today.

There has been fervent speculation that Nestlé CFO Paul Polman will replace Brabeck-Letmathe and take the top job. However, the Nestlé spokesman refused to be drawn on the speculation.

The spokesman said the new CEO would take up the role on 10 April next year after the company’s AGM.

Brabeck-Letmathe, 62, has been Nestlé CEO since 1997 and was elected chairman in 2005. He has spent almost 40 years at the Swiss food giant, joining the company’s Austria unit in 1968.

Throughout the 1980s, Brabeck-Letmathe held managerial positions in Latin America. In 1992, he was appointed executive vice president with global responsibility for food, pasta business Buitoni, chocolate and confectionery, ice cream, petfood and industrial products.

The spokesman said Brabeck-Letmathe had indicated in 2005 that he would step down from his role as chairman.

The spokesman added that Nestlé would announce further management changes – in the aftermath of the appointment of its CEO – on 18 October.