Soft drinks giant PepsiCo has named Indra Nooyi as ceo to replace incumbent Steve Reimund who is retiring to spend more time with his family.

Nooyi (50), who is currently president and CFO, played key roles in the acquisition of the Tropicana brand, the public offering of the Pepsi Cola bottling group and a merger with Quaker Foods during her twelve years with the Purchase, New York-headquartered business.

When she takes up the job in October she will join a rare group of only eleven US women leading Fortune 500 companies. She told analysts: "I'm very excited and at the same time very humbled."

Her Indian background could be an asset as Asia and the Middle East emerge as major markets for soft drinks makers.

The departure of 58-year-old Reimund after five years in the job has surprised some in the industry, but he insists he has been mulling the move for the last twelve months.

The 22-year PepsiCo veteran will stay until next March as chairman. He says of his successor: "She has been an invaluable partner and ally throughout my time as ceo."

Reimund adds: "She not only co-authored our vision and drafted our strategic blueprint, she has a sharp talent for turning insightful ideas and plans into realities and for developing and replenishing our talent base."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff