MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. announced that Stephen W. Sanger has stepped down as chief executive officer, effective immediately. Ken Powell, president and chief operating officer, has been named as Mr. Sanger’s successor. Mr. Sanger will continue as chairman of the company.
"The board and I have great confidence that Ken will be an outstanding chief executive officer of General Mills," Mr. Sanger said. "He has extensive knowledge of our global food categories, our customers, and our worldwide operations. This deep-seated understanding of our business, coupled with Ken’s commitment to our culture and the development of our people, make him uniquely qualified to lead General Mills in the next phase of our long-term growth."
Mr. Powell, 53, joined General Mills in 1979 as a marketing assistant and advanced through a series of assignments of increasing responsibility including positions in the Yoplait, Betty Crocker and Big G cereal divisions, and Cereal Partners Worldwide, where he was marketing director from 1990 to 1996.
Mr. Powell was named marketing director for Cereal Partners U.K. based in the United Kingdom in 1990, then became vice-president and marketing director of C.P.W. He returned to the United States in January 1996 to become president of Yoplait USA. He was named president of General Mills Big G division in October 1997 and appointed senior vice-president of General Mills in May 1998.
He is a member of the boards of General Mills and Medtronic, as well as the supervisory board of C.P.W.
Mr. Powell received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard and a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.
Mr. Sanger joined General Mills in 1974 and progressed through various positions in marketing management across the company’s consumer food businesses, including president of the Big G cereal division and president of Yoplait USA. He was elected to the board of directors in 1992 and was named president of General Mills in October 1993. He had been c.e.o. since May 28, 1995.
He is a current board member and past chairman of the Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association and the Guthrie Theater. He is a member of the Business Council and the Business Roundtable.
Mr. Sanger received a bachelor’s degree in history from DePauw University in 1968 and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan in 1970. From 1970 to 1973, he held marketing and sales positions with Procter & Gamble.
The announcement comes less than a week after General Mills reported strong first-quarter results. New income in the first quarter ended Aug. 26 was $288.9 million, equal to 85c per share on the common stock, up 8% from $266.9 million, or 76c per share, during the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Net sales were $3,072 million, up 7%.