Processing Magazine

Kraft hires new CEO, acquires part of United Biscuits Foods

July 10, 2006

Kraft Foods Inc. recently replaced CEO Roger Deromedi with Frito-Lay chief Irene Rosenfeld amid continuing skepticism about the sluggish payoff from an ongoing company-wide overhaul, the Associated Press reports. Deromedi, 53, had been chief executive at Kraft since 2001, holding the job alone for the last 2-1/2 years after sharing it with Betsy Holden as co-CEO until 2003. He oversaw a restructuring effort in which Kraft is midway through. The plan was to close 40 plants and reduce its workforce to 88,000 from 102,000. The company said he mutually agreed with the board of directors to leave to pursue other interests. Kraft handed the overhaul effort to another longtime executive of the company, who is returning from a stint as chairman and CEO of Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo Inc. Rosenfeld, 53, spent more than 20 years with Kraft and General Foods before departing Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft in July 2003 as president of Kraft Foods North America. The appointment makes Rosenfeld one of the highest-ranking female CEOs of any U.S. corporation, trailing Patricia Woertz at Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Brenda Barnes at Sara Lee Corp., based on company revenue. It also gives a woman sole control of the top job at Kraft for the first time. The company is expected to be spun off soon by majority owner Altria Group Inc. Kraft announced that it will acquire the Spanish and Portuguese operations of United Biscuits, according to Business Wire. The agreement also returns to Kraft the rights to all Nabisco trademarks, including Oreo and Ritz, in the European Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to the Nabisco trademarks, the UB operations in Spain and Portugal include leading local biscuit brands, such as Fontaneda, Filipinos, Artiach, Chiquilin and Triunfo, as well as the leading dry dessert business in Iberia, Royal. The deal also includes UB''s Iberian canned meat, tomato, and fruit juice businesses under the well-known brand names Apis and Fruco as well as all seven UB manufacturing facilities and 1,300 employees in Iberia. Together, these Iberian-based businesses generated net revenues of approximately $400 million in 2005.