The Danone board ousts Emmanuel Faber and appoints interim chief executive as the search for a new leader continues
The board of Danone has decided to replace Emmanuel Faber as its chairman and chief executive and appointed Véronique Penchienati-Bosetta, currently chief executive officer international, to take up the chief executive role. She will be deputised by Shane Grant, who serves as chief executive officer North America. Both will remain in their roles while the search for a new leader is under way.
Danone also announced that Gilles Schnepp is the company’s new chairman and his focus is on leading the transition, including the search for a new chief executive.
The news comes only two weeks after the French dairy giant announced that Faber will step down in a management overhaul prompted by dissident shareholders led by Blue Bell Capital and US fund Artisan Partners.
Investors criticised Danone’s chief for not delivering shareholders returns on par with other food giants such as Nestlé and Unilever amid the Covid-19 crisis. Shareholders also voiced disagreement for not investing in portfolio brands as a means to increase short-term profitability.
Faber took up the chief executive role of Danone in 2014 and has moved the company towards greater ESG credentials ever since.
In June, the company became the first listed company to adopt the shareholders-driven model introduced by French law in 2019, committing to pursuing social, societal and environmental objectives that reflect its conviction that the health of people and the preservation of the planet are interdependent.
Faber has also led strategic M&A deals and investment activity. Last year, Danone announced a €100 million investment to strengthen its specialised nutrition business in China, invested in allergy prevention foodtech start-up Ready, Set, Food!, and acquired specialised nutrition company Real Food Blends. The M&A activity continued with the latest acquisition of plant-based dairy company Earth Island.
Schnepp said: “The board and I want to thank Emmanuel for his leadership and significant contributions to Danone since 1997, and since 2014 as CEO and then Chairman & CEO.
“His vision and commitment to One Planet. One Health are ahead of the industry and have ensured that Danone is a world leader on sustainability. He leaves Danone with a strong platform from which to accelerate and grow. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Danone employees around the world that continue to work to grow and build the business for all consumers, customers and stakeholders.”
Penchienati Bosetta has built a solid career in Danone ever since she joined the company in 1999 as marketing director of Lu France. Two years later she took up the global brand director role.
She continued in the company holding marketing and general manager roles until her appointment as executive vice president of Growth & Innovation in 2017, and as a member of the Danone executive committee in 2018.
She led Danone’s Growth & Innovation in e-commerce, leading to a doubling of sales from 2017 to 2020, and oversaw a 40% increase in innovation-led initiatives.
Penchienati-Bosetta became executive vice-president of Specialized
Nutrition in 2019 until her appointment as chief executive officer international in November 2020.
Prior to Danone, Penchienati-Bosetta worked in global health and beauty companies including Proctor & Gamble, in executive marketing positions.
Date published: 15 March 2021