Nestle Picks Former P&G Executive
November 1 2005 by Haig Simonian
NESTLE HAS ADDED to the list of potential candidates to succeed Peter Brabeck as chief executive with the surprise appointment of a former top Procter & Gamble manager as its next chief financial officer.
The choice of Paul Polman, a 49-year-old Dutchman, who until June headed P&G’s European operations, came unexpectedly. Equally surprising was the announcement that Wolfgang eichenberger, who holds the Nestle CFO job, would step aside in January to run a new venture capital fund for the group.
Brabeck, who earlier this year was involved in a controversy over corporate governance after assuming Nestle’s chairmanship while remaining chief executive, is expected to step down from the latter position in the next two to three years. This has fueled speculation about a successor to Brabeck, 61.
The appointment of an outsider left analysts wondering whether Polman, credited with turning around P&G in Europe, was being groomed as a successor. Officials said Polman, a 26-year P&G veteran, had left because of a reluctance for family reasons to take up an appointment in Cincinnati, where P&G is headquartered. €˜We think Polman has been handpicked to succeed Brabeck,’ said Jon Cox of Kepler Equities. Nestle, which traditionally prefers to groom talent internally, declined to comment.
Analysts said that such high-level job changes between companies, especially in overlapping businesses, were rare. While Nestle and P&G do not compete in most of their businesses, they are rivals in pet care and cosmetics, where Nestle has a big stake in L’Oreal.