BOSTON (Reuters) – US Foods Holding Corp said on Friday it has split its chief executive officer and chairman roles after coming under pressure from an activist investment firm to improve its operations.
Pietro Satriano will remain the company’s CEO and have a board seat, while Robert Dutkowsky, the board’s lead independent director, has been elected non-executive chair.
Satriano was appointed board chairman in December 2017 after having joined it in July 2015 when he was named CEO of the company. Before that, he was the company’s chief merchandising officer.
Dutkowsky has been a director since 2017.
US Foods, the largest U.S. food distributor after Sysco Corp, has faced labor shortages and supply chain issues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also has come under pressure from Sachem Head Capital Management LP, a New York-based firm run by hedge fund veteran Scott Ferguson and U.S. Foods’ biggest investor with an 8.6% stake.
Sachem Head has argued US Foods’ profitability could be improved with more focus on prices and higher-margin private label goods.
Corporations sometimes separate the key CEO and chairman roles when they are facing trouble and the move is considered a governance step that many pension funds and other large investors generally endorse.
US Foods also on Friday named two female board directors to head its compensation and nominating and corporate governance committees.
The company said “it has implemented a series of changes consistent with its commitment to best practices of corporate governance.”
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Paul Simao)