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Danone CEO forced out after shareholder pressure

Mon 15 March 2021 10:29 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - Activist shareholders have succeeded in forcing the departure of Danone chairman and chief executive Emmanuel Faber after complaints about the yoghurt-maker's financial performance.

The iconic food and drinks conglomerate on Monday said Faber would be replaced immediately by director Gilles Schnepp as non-executive chairman, while Veronique Penchienati-Bosetta, chief executive officer international, would take over as CEO on an interim basis.

US fund Artisan Partners last month built a stake in Danone to agitate for change after London-based Bluebell Capital, revealed it had done the same.

Under Faber, Danone added a mission statement to its statutes combining profitability with social responsibility and environmental targets.

"Unfortunately, the financial performance of Danone is not consistent with the quality of its assets," Artisan wrote to other shareholders in February, adding that it had spent around $1.6bn building a stake of more than 3%.

Artisan demanded Danone spin off its bottled water division, which includes the Evian and Volvic brands, where sales have been hammered on the back of restaurant and café closures during Covid lockdowns.

"The immediate priority of the new chairman, together with the board, will be to lead the transition, including the search for a new CEO," Danone said in a statement, adding that it had appointed an international search agency to support the process.

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