Unilever Senior Management Mutates

29 February 2008

LONDON: For the first time in its seventy-eight year history the globe's second largest advertiser, Unilever, will have no English or Dutch nationals serving on its board.

The move signifies a shift from the company's Anglo-Dutch roots. Since its formation in 1930 via the merger of British soapmaker Lever Brothers with Holland's Margarine Unie (ironically founded by butter makers), Unilever's boardroom has comprised mainly Britons and Netherlanders.

Since the mid-90s, however, there has been a slow erosion of Anglo-Dutch dominance, exemplified in August 2000 with the appointment of current chief executive Patrick Cescau, a French national.

The company's annual meeting in May will set the seal on the process when two senior managers of its eight-member executive team, Kees van de Graaf and Ralph Kuger, are due to retire.

The former will be replaced by Zimbabwean Doug Baillie, one-time boss of Hindustan Lever; the latter by Vindi Banga, president of the foods business, who will add home and personal care operations to his responsibilities.

The fmcg giant also intends to transfer its central and eastern European businesses from the European group and into a wider-ranging division focussing on emerging markets including Asia and Africa.

Asia-Africa president Harish Manwani will take responsibility for the new entity.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff