General Mills has promoted president and chief operating officer Ken Powell to the position of CEO, the US food giant has announced.

Powell, who joined the company in 1979, replaces Steve Sanger, who has held the dual roles of chairman and CEO for 12 years.  Sanger, 61, will remain as chairman of the Cheerios-to-Haagen Dazs firm.

“Ken has extensive knowledge of our global food categories, our customers, and our worldwide operations,” said Sanger.

Powell said Sanger would be “a tough act to follow”. He added: “I am honored and excited to serve as General Mills’ CEO.”

The company, meanwhile, also released details of its quarterly dividend. General Mills will hand out a dividend of US$0.39 a share on 1 November to shareholders of record on 10 October.