Danone is looking for a new CEO with immediate effect. The contested Emmanuel Faber will, however, keep his seat as chairman of the food giant.
Faber has been under fire for some time. Activist investors, in particular, including Artisan Partners Asset Management, Causeway Capital Management and Bluebell Capital Partners, have criticised the CEO in recent months and have called for changes.
In November, Bluebell sent a letter to the management asking for the positions of CEO and chairman to be split and to replace the current holder of those positions. Moreover, the investor was dissatisfied with the total shareholder return which, since Faber took the helm in October 2014, has fallen far short compared to its larger rivals Nestlé and Unilever.
According to French newspaper Le Figaro, after an intense three-hour meeting last night, the board of directors reaffirmed its support for Faber. But to get that support, he had to accept that his role as CEO would soon be over. In the future, he will only be chairman. The board of directors is now embarking on the recruitment process in search of a new operational leader.
Faber joined Danone in 1997 and was appointed CEO of the group in October 2014. Since December 2017, he has also been chairman.