© Stocksak. FILE PHOTO – This illustration was taken January 17, 2022 and features the Unilever logo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
Richa Naidu and Jessica DiNapoli
NEW YORK (Stocksak) – Nelson Peltz, an activist investor, approached former CEOs from consumer goods companies to be considered for the top job at Dove soap-maker. Two sources familiar with the matter stated that Peltz is currently on the board at Unilever (NYSE.) Plc.
London-based Unilever seeks a successor to CEO Alan Jope. Jope said last month that he would retire at 2023.
Unilever is not alone in experiencing an increase in labor, freight and ingredient costs. While it attempted to preserve margins, Unilever increased the prices it charges its 400 brands but they have declined.
Jope’s tenure began in January 2019 and its shares have not performed well against European discretionary indices and consumer staples. It has been scarred by a legal challenge by its top-selling Ben & Jerry’s to block the sale of its ice cream business in Israel, as well as by failed attempts to buy GSK plc’s consumer healthcare business.
One source said that Billionaire Peltz met two potential candidates to replace Jope in recent weeks. Neither candidate formerly led Procter & Gamble (NYSE:) Co, the Unilever rival where Peltz previously held a seat on the board that he used to prompt a major overhaul, the source added.
Peltz, co-founder of investment firm Trian Partners, joined Unilever’s board in July. He previously served on the boards at Ritz cracker-maker. Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:) and ketchup maker Heinz, now Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ) Co.
Peltz is a well-known activist for reforming corporate C-suites.
Peltz expressed regret at Jope’s retirement announcement.
“As a board member, Trian’s CEO Nelson Peltz looks forward to continuing to work closely with Alan until his departure and to being part of the process of choosing a new leader for the company,” his firm said in a statement last month.
Trian declined further comment when Trian was asked about Peltz’s attempts to find a CEO.
One source said that Peltz had met with a Florida former CEO of consumer goods before Jope announced his departure.
The sources couldn’t be named because they weren’t allowed to speak to media.
According to a source, Peltz and his team approached another former CEO of consumer packaged goods about the Unilever job in the last month.
Unilever spokeswoman Xenia Riel declined to comment.
According to sources, Unilever has also hired a search firm in order to find Jope’s successor. Four sources familiar with the matter claim that Fabian Garcia, president of Unilever’s personal care division is a top internal contender.
Garcia, who was CEO of Revlon, a U.S. cosmetics firm, from 2018 to 2018, was previously the head of Unilever’s North America Division, which has been growing its sales.
Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly and Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever’s nutrition group, are also contenders, one of the sources said. None of the possible candidates could be reached for comment.
Sources suggest Garcia may also be a candidate for Unilever’s Reckitt Benckiser Group plc.
In May, Trian said it would work with Unilever’s management and board “to help drive Unilever’s strategy, operations, sustainability, and shareholder value for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Investors have criticized the company’s decision to place profits above more sustainable goals.
Unilever has stated that Peltz supports Unilever’s strategy for sustainability, which includes a plan decarbonizing the company’s business units.