Danone Board Ousts CEO (and Former CFO) Emmanuel Faber

Danone faced increasing pressure from shareholders to replace Faber, whom they blamed for lackluster sales.
Vincent RyanMarch 15, 2021

The board of directors at Paris-headquartered Danone announced the removal of Chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber Monday.

Gilles Schnepp will replace Faber as chairman. Véronique Penchienati-Bosetta and Shane Grant will serve on an interim basis as CEO and deputy CEO, respectively, until a new chief executive is hired, according to the parent company of the Dannon yogurt brand.

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What Happened: The company’s press statement announcing the executive shift gave no explanation on why Faber was abruptly jettisoned.

Emmanuel Faber

Danone faced increasing pressure from shareholders — including the investment fund Artisan Partners and activist investor Bluebell Capital — to replace Faber, whom they blamed for the company’s lackluster sales, according to reports from CNBC and Reuters.

Danone’s brand portfolio includes Activia, Dannon, Evian, Horizon Organic, Oikos, Silk, Vega, and Volvic. The company reported $28.1 billion in sales in 2020, down 6.6% from the 2019 sales figure of $30.1 billion.

Last month, Faber offered to relinquish the CEO role but stay on as chairman. The company’s board of directors initially approved the proposal, issuing a statement on March 1 declaring Faber would continue his positions “with the full confidence and unanimous support of the board” until a new CEO was named.

Faber joined Danone in 1997 as head of finance, strategies, and information systems, and was promoted to chief financial officer in 2000. He was named vice president for the Asia-Pacific region in 2005. He became CEO in October 2014 and chairman in January 2015.

What Happens Next: Schnepp, the new chairman, was previously chairman and chief executive at the French hardware company Legrand between 2006 and 2018 and was board chairman from 2018 to 2020.

“I am honored to be appointed as chairman of the board of Danone at this important time for the company,” Schnepp said in a statement. “I have tremendous regard for Danone’s history and its contribution to society through its world-leading healthy food and beverages and commitment to sustainability.”

As for the interim chief executives, Penchienati-Bosetta is currently Danone’s international CEO and Grant is CEO for North America.

[Juergen Esser is Danone’s current finance chief.]

This story originally appeared on Benzinga. © 2021

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