Polman nominated to lead Unilever

by Keith Nunes
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LONDON — Paul Polman has been nominated by the Unilever board of directors to succeed Patrick Cescau as the company’s group chief executive. Mr. Cescau announced he will retire from Unilever at the end of the year.

Mr. Polman was most recently executive vice-president and zone director of the Americas for Nestle S.A. He joined Nestle in 2006 as chief financial officer. Prior to joining Nestle he had a 26 year career at Procter & Gamble, where he was group president of Europe for the company, a position he held from 2001 to 2005.

"Patrick has had an outstanding career," said Michael Treschow, chairman of Unilever. "We are greatly in his debt for the transformation he has brought about over the last four years. The performance of the business has improved markedly under his leadership. Liked and admired in equal measure, Patrick leaves a substantial record on which to build.

"At the same time, we are very pleased to welcome Paul Polman. He is a great talent with significant international experience and an excellent track record. He has all the attributes necessary to build on Patrick’s achievements. We are delighted that he has agreed to join the business and to lead Unilever into the next stage of its development."

Mr. Polman’s nomination will be voted upon at a general meeting of the company in the fall.

Mr. Cescau joined Unilever in 1973 and was elected to the board as finance director in 1999. He subsequently was foods director and was appointed chairman of Unilever P.L.C. and vice-chairman of Unilever n.v. in 2004. He became the company’s first ever group chief executive on the creation of that position in April 2005.

"Four years ago we set out to transform Unilever and to get the business back on track," Mr. Cescau said. "I believe that phase of work is largely complete, so now is exactly the right time to pass on the baton. It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead such a great business. I leave with a real sense of pride in what has been achieved, but also great confidence in the company’s ability to pursue the opportunities that lie ahead."

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