Danone is making rapid progress in its search for a new CEO and hopes to come to a decision soon, a leading executive has said.
As Jean-Michel Severino, the head of Danone's governance committee, told the company's annual shareholder meeting, "The number of candidates has narrowed. We are now conducting in-depth discussions with a very limited number of candidates and hope to conclude soon."
Former chairman and chief executive Emmanuel Faber was ousted by Danone's board in March. His departure followed calls from activist shareholders to replace him after sales growth and share price performance became sluggish compared to rivals.
A source close to the matter had told Reuters this month that Danone was aiming to narrow its shortlist to two names in May.
Antoine de Saint-Affrique, who announced on April 22 he was stepping down from Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut at the end of August, is widely seen as being one of two candidates having detailed talks with Danone.
The other name that is surfacing is Nathalie Roos, who recently left her job at the helm of L'Oreal's Professional Products division. She declined to comment.
Asked whether he was a candidate, De Saint-Affrique said in a statement to Reuters last week that he had yet to leave Barry Callebaut.
"For the next five months, as I told analysts and journalists this morning, cacao and chocolate will remain my only concern," De Saint-Affrique had said.
Danone, which recently reported a weak start to its current financial year, has made it clear it wants an external candidate for the chief executive position, and someone with operational experience in the food industry.
Danone appointed director Gilles Schnepp as non-executive chairman in the management shake-up, and two internal managers as interim CEOs. [Pic:©Moovstock/123RF.COM]