PARIS (Reuters) – Danone will pursue some of the organisational changes set in motion by former boss Emmanuel Faber, newly-appointed chairman Gilles Schnepp said in a letter to shareholders ahead of the appointment of a new chief executive.
Faber was abruptly ousted as chairman and CEO of the Activia yoghurt-maker after a late night board meeting on Sunday, following clashes with some board members over strategy and calls from activist funds for him to resign over the group’s lacklustre returns compared with some rivals.
A plan dubbed “Local First”, which will entail reorganising Danone around regional hubs rather than brands, had created some pushback internally, sources previously told Reuters, and was also contested by Danone’s activist shareholders.
Schnepp, who previously ran electrical group Legrand and joined Danone’s board in December before being made chairman at the weekend, said directors supported the plan, which was first outlined by Faber in November.
“We want to make clear this is an organisational framework only, leaving the incoming CEO all the latitude to design and execute his or her strategy,” Schnepp said in the letter to investors, published on Danone’s website late on Wednesday ahead of an April 29 shareholder meeting.
Schnepp said in the letter that Danone was looking for an external candidate as CEO, after the company appointed an interim duo to manage operations.
The new chairman said Danone remained more broadly committed to the group’s focus on twinning financial performance and social and environmental goals.
He added that Danone would reduce the number of board members, which stood at 16 including Faber.
Schnepp made similar comments to employees in an internal video, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Thursday, quoting him as saying that Danone’s broader strategic roadmap would not change.
Danone declined to comment on the video.
(Reporting by Sarah White and Blandine Henault; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by David Goodman and Barbara Lewis)