Unilever begins search for new CEO

By Laura Mullan
Consumer goods giant Unilever has begun the search for a new chief executive as the veteran boss Paul Polman prepares to step down. The company has beg...

Consumer goods giant Unilever has begun the search for a new chief executive as the veteran boss Paul Polman prepares to step down.

The company has begun working with executive search firm Egon Zehnder International to prepare for the change in leadership.

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The Anglo-Dutch behemoth behind brands such as Dove shampoo and Ben & Jerry's ice cream has ignited a race for one of the top jobs in the global consumer products industry. 

Although the company is paving the way for the exit of veteran CEO Polman, a formal recruitment process involving prospective candidates is yet to get underway.

The preparations for Polman’s exit come at a time of significant change for Unilever, as the FMCG company is in the process of looking for a buyer for its GBP£6.5bn unit that includes spread brands such as Flora. 

Unilever’s dual structure - with a headquarters, board of directors and stock listings in both Britain and the Netherlands - is also under review after the company rebuffed a US$143bn takeover bid from Kraft Heinz.  

As of yet, no date has been set for Polman’s retirement, however, sources close to the matter expect that he will step down in about 18 months. 

Polan has played a key role in promoting sustainable practices in the corporate world. 

The former Nestle executive is widely known for encouraging his peers to embrace ambitious environmental and societal goals. 

Industry experts have suggested that internal candidates may include the company’s finance director Graeme Pitkethly, although Egon Zehnder International is keen to carry out a thorough international search. 
 

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