Mondelez Names outsider as New CEO

Mondelez International has named the head of Canadian frozen foods maker, McCain Foods, to succeed its long-time chief as the snack firm battles declining profits and activist investors.

The maker of Ritz crackers, Cadbury chocolate and Oreo cookies has announced that Dirk Van de Put, who currently leads the privately held Canadian company McCain Foods, will take over for CEO Irene Rosenfeld in November.

Rosenfeld, 64 years old, will continue to serve as board chair until she retires in March.

She has been CEO since 2006 and, in recent months, has faced pressure from activist investors Nelson Peltz and William Ackman to increase the company’s profit margins, which trail those of competitors.

Her departure will cap a challenging 11-year tenure, first as the CEO of Kraft Foods Group and then as head of the renamed Mondelez.

The company has tried to make healthier foods with simpler ingredients to keep with up with changing consumer tastes, but the efforts have not stemmed declining sales.

Mondelez’s sales and earnings have been dropping consistently since Rosenfeld engineered the spinoff of Kraft’s grocery business.

Earnings of $1.66-billion last year were down by more than half from 2013 – the first full year as a snacks-focused company led by brands Oreo cookies and Triscuit and Ritz crackers.

The food maker’s second-quarter earnings released yesterday show operating margins improved though revenue is down in all of the company’s regions except Latin America, where it was relatively flat. Still, the company beat estimates on its bottom line.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Mondelez was searching for Rosenfeld’s replacement, though she said earlier in the year she had no plans to retire.

McCain, a $7.3-billion company, makes frozen french fries and other potato products. At Mondelez, Van de Put will oversee a far-reaching portfolio of snack, gum and candy products including bel Vita biscuits and Trident gum.

Van de Put has also worked at Novartis AG, Group Danone, Coca-Cola and Mars.

Rosenfeld said in prepared remarks that Van de Put is prepared to lead Mondelez, which has a market value of around $66-billion: “He is a seasoned global CEO, having lived and worked on three different continents, with deep experience and expertise in all critical business and commercial operations in both emerging and developed markets,” she said.

Source: Fox News, Reuters