Danone to Replace Bulk of Board After Investor Onslaught
International Business Times (07/29/21)
Danone (DANOY) announced that it would reconstitute almost its entire 12-person board months after investors forced the French food and beverage giant's CEO to resign. Former CEO Franck Riboud was ousted, as was his successor Emmanuel Faber. "The renewal will be completed by the general shareholders meeting of the spring of 2023," the group stated. The only board members to survive the cull were chairman Gilles Schnepp and two staff representatives. Danone has separated its business into four divisions, including dairy and plant-based products, waters, early life nutrition, and medical nutrition. Faber was forced out in March over criticism that his focus on social responsibility was restraining Danone's profitability, with foreign investors unhappy about the company's underperforming share price. U.S. fund Artisan Partners (APAM) and U.K.-based Bluebell Capital were among dissident shareholders accumulating stakes in Danone in order to push change. During Faber's tenure, Danone added a mission statement to its mandates combining profitability with social responsibility and environmental targets. Former finance director Cecile Cabanis will also leave Danone's board, having only recently been appointed vice president. Faber has been replaced by Antoine de Saint-Affrique, who joins in September from Swiss chocolate group Barry Callebaut (BRRLY). He spent most of his career at the food and consumer goods conglomerate Unilever (UL), overseeing its food division from 2011 to 2015. Meanwhile, Danone's second-quarter financial performance topped analysts' expectations. Sales rose 3.6% to close to 6.2 billion euros ($7.4 billion) and net profit by 5.2% to 1.07 billion euros. However, Danone's profit margin from ordinary operations was hit by soaring commodities prices, shrinking from 14% to 13.1% year over year.
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