Danone suddenly turns the page Emmanuel Faber. The board of directors of the French agrifood giant “terminated the functions” of its boss “with immediate effect”, after several months of slinging shareholders who challenged his strategy, according to a statement released Monday by the group.
The historic former boss of electrical equipment manufacturer Legrand, Gilles Schnepp, 62, will take the head of the board of directors. While waiting to find a new “international” general manager, an interim duo has been appointed “to ensure operational continuity”.
A first alert on March 1
According to the Figaro, the board meeting on Sunday “recorded in the evening” the departure of its leader, who was contested by shareholders hostile to his governance. Emmanuel Faber, 57, has been CEO since 2014 and CEO since 2017. For several weeks, shareholders had notably demanded the separation of the functions of Chairman and CEO in order to restore new vigor to the group, battered by the Covid pandemic -19.
Emmanuel Faber had dropped ballast on March 1, the council voting the principle of the separation of the two positions, the outgoing CEO keeping the presidency. But two days later, the investment fund Artisan Parters, which was campaigning for the departure of Emmanuel Faber, had said “strongly urge the board to review its position”. This fund, Danone’s third shareholder with around 3% of the capital, called for the appointment “immediately” of a “truly independent” chairman.
The social plan threatened
Artisan Partners and another shareholder fund, Bluebell Capital Partners, wanted an outright departure from the boss of Danone, judging that under his leadership the group had declined compared to its main competitors. These shareholders also ask that the reorganization and cost reduction plan launched by Emmanuel Faber be at least suspended. Called “Local First”, this plan, currently being negotiated with the unions, aims according to the outgoing management to make Danone more “agile” and generate savings by removing hierarchical layers. Up to 2,000 job cuts are planned.