Nestlé's Management Musical Chairs

22 October 2007

VEVEY, Switzerland: More senior management changes at Nestlé, the planet's largest foods company. They follow last month's surprise appointment of Paul Bulcke as successor to autarch Peter Brabeck-Lemathe, who will retain the company's chair when he retires in April from his role as chairman/ceo.

Current cfo Paul Polman will become the head of Nestlé's Americas division in February; while James Singh, now head of mergers and acquisitions, will succeed Polman in the financial hotseat.

Given that Polman is a disappointed contender for the ceo role, analysts say his acceptance of the US post implies an intention to remain with the company - at least in the medium term.

"He's going to be in charge of the largest business unit," says J P Morgan analyst Arnaud Langlois. "This is a very positive sign that Nestlé can manage change without major management upheaval."

Polman himself is making all the right noises, hailing his new chore as "a great job, great opportunity in an excellent company with still lots of potential."

The management reshuffle coincided with publication of Nestlé's Q3 sales numbers - up 9% to SF78.7 billion ($67.16bn; €47.09bn; £32.79bn).

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff