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Franck Riboud to step down as Danone CEO after 18 years

By Mark Astley+

03-Sep-2014

Emmanuel Faber (right) will succeed Franck Riboud (left) as CEO on October 1, 2014.
Emmanuel Faber (right) will succeed Franck Riboud (left) as CEO on October 1, 2014.

Danone patriarch Franck Riboud has stepped down as CEO of the French dairy giant after more than 18 years at the helm.

The Danone Board of Directors voted yesterday "on the recommendation" of Riboud to separate the functions of chairman and CEO - positions he inherited from his father, Antoine Riboud, in May 1996.

To ensure Danone continues to benefit from the "insights and in-depth knowledge of its markets, corporate culture and business environment" held by Riboud, his duties as chairman will be expanded.

Emmanuel Faber, the current deputy general manager and vice-chairman of Danone, will replace Riboud as CEO on October 1.

Faber joined Danone in 1997 as head of finance, strategies and information systems. In 2008, he was named general manager of Danone, and in 2011, vice-chairman of the Danone board of directors. 

Commenting, Riboud said Faber's experience and attributes "make him a natural choice" to lead Danone's 100,000 employees worldwide.

“He has the full trust of the Board of Directors," said Riboud. "And I am delighted to support him and continue to work closely with him in expanding Danone.”

"Undergone incredible change"

Riboud joined Danone, then trading as BSN, in 1981.

He held several posts, including general manager of Evian and head of group development, before succeeding his father as CEO and chairman on May 2, 1996.

“I joined Danone 33 years ago and have managed our day-to-day operations for over 18 years,” said Riboud.

Antoine Riboud passed his son Franck the baton in 1996.

“During that time, our company has undergone incredible change and we have achieved the goals we set back in 1996.”

When he took the helm, Danone consisted of nine business segments - fresh dairy products, waters, biscuits, sauces, pastas, cheese, ready meals, glass, and beer - with sales of €12.8bn (US$16.8bn).

Now, after nearly 20 years of divestment and investment, Danone is made up of just four business units - fresh dairy products, waters, baby nutrition, and medical nutrition - and boasted sales of €21.3bn (US$28bn) in 2013.

In 1996, 70% of Danone sales came from Western Europe. Now, emerging countries account for more than 50% of sales.

“Today, Danone is a truly global company, orientated toward emerging markets, realigned around a select number of promising businesses in which we are market leaders, and focused on pursuing growth,” said Riboud.