Unilever has begun a search to replace chairman Nils Andersen in the latest stage of a management reshuffle since the consumer goods giant became the target of activist investor Nelson Peltz.
The maker of Marmite and Magnum has appointed executive search firm Spencer Stuart to lead the search for Andersen’s successor, according to people familiar with the matter.
The move, first reported by Bloomberg, is part of a series of management changes at Unilever implemented following the acquisition of a stake by Peltz’s Trian fund. Managing Director Alan Jope, a 35-year veteran of the company, announced his retirement last September, just months after Peltz joined the board.
Joe will be replaced by Hein Schumacher, managing director of the Dutch dairy cooperative Royal FrieslandCampina. Schumacher previously worked at Heinz, where Peltz was also an activist investor.
The Trian founder has a long track record of activism in the consumer goods sector, driving change at Procter & Gamble and helping orchestrate Kraft Foods’ 2012 split into Heinz and Mondelez.
Last week, Unilever announced its chief financial officer Graeme Pitkethly would retire by the end of May next year. Digital director Conny Braams is also expected to leave this summer. Their replacements have yet to be announced.
“I think the whole board is probably up for renewal,” said Bruno Monteyne, principal analyst at Bernstein. “It would be a good signal for the new CEO and President. It would reflect that there is a sense of urgency.
Unilever is facing growing investor dissatisfaction with its disappointing share price and a failed attempt to buy the consumer healthcare arm of GSK for £50bn at the end of 2021.
The company, which also has Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in its stable of brands, announced early last year that it was restructuring, splitting the company into five business groups: beauty and wellness, personal care, home care, nutrition and ice. cream — to try to restart growth.
Andersen, who was previously boss of Danish shipping giant Maersk and brewer Carlsberg, became a non-executive director of Unilever in 2015 and was named chairman in 2019, the same year Jope took the reins.
The Dane will have served nine years on the company’s board of directors by the time of its annual general meeting next year. According to Unilever’s corporate governance code, a non-executive director will rarely be re-elected to the board after more than nine years.
Unilever and Spencer Stuart declined to comment.