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Senior Pepsico executive to become new chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser

Laxman Narasimhan will join the board on 16 July and formally take the top job from September, replacing Rakesh Kapoor, 60, who has been in charge for more than 8 years.

Reckitt said that Narasimhan, 52, would also directly lead the health business unit.

Reckitt, based in Slough, is one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies, operating in more than 60 countries and employing more than 40,000 people. Its brands include Dettol, Vanish and Cillit Bang.

It has been restructured under Kapoor into its higher-margin consumer health brands, such as Durex and Nurofen, and its hygiene and home business.

It has been turning itself into a consumer health product led-business through acquisitions, such as the $16.7 billion (€14.8 billion) takeover of Mead Johnson, the baby formula maker.

The restructuring has led to speculation that Reckitt could look to spin-off the hygiene home unit.

The company has faced a series of mishaps, including engineering issues at its European baby formula factory in the Netherlands last year, a deadly safety scandal in South Korea, a costly cyberattack and a botched footwear product launch.

It is also embroiled in a regulatory investigation in the United States related to Indivior, the opioid addiction treatment company that was spun off in 2014.

Narasimhan is the global chief commercial officer at Pepsico, having previously served as head of its Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations, managing £14.5 billion (€18.8 billion) in revenues across 100 countries and 125,000 employees. Before that he was a director at McKinsey, the management consultancy, where he spent almost two decades in Cleveland, Tokyo, Toronto, Silicon Valley and New Delhi. At McKinsey he oversaw consumer-facing industries in India and led research on emerging-market digital consumers.

Chris Sinclair, chairman of Reckitt, said that it had considered external and internal candidates. He added, “Laxman is an outstanding leader who brings wide experience across the consumer goods sector, both operationally at scale, and from his time at McKinsey. He has led complex operational businesses and inspired teams across developed and emerging markets to achieve market-leading performance.”

Narasimhan said, “It is a special company with a long history of outperformance, creating innovative products and iconic brands which improve the health and lives of people across the globe.”

He will be paid a salary of £950,000 (€1,070,000), a pension allowance of 10% of his salary and a bonus plan with a target of 120%. He will receive an initial long-term incentive grant of 75,000 shares and 150,000 options for the three-year performance period 2019–2021, currently worth £14.2 million (€16 million). Reckitt will compensate him for remuneration forfeited on leaving Pepsico.

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