CINCINNATI - Procter & Gamble Co. named the leaders of four newly-created global business units Wednesday, a move that is widely seen as setting up a competition for the company's next CEO.
P&G stunned observers in May when it announced CEO Bob McDonald decided to retire. He was replaced by former CEO A.G. Lafley, who announced a new corporate structure after the markets closed June 5.
"We expect this structure to facilitate faster global expansion of brand and product innovations to win with consumers," Lafley said in a press release. "Sectors will also drive technical, commercial, financial and organizational synergies to improve results."
Martin Riant was named group president of global baby, feminine and family care.
Deborah Henretta is the new group president of global beauty.
David Taylor, currently group president – global home care, has been elected group president of global health and grooming. In addition to leading the sector, Taylor will assume responsibility for the pet care business, succeeding Jorge Mesquita who is leaving the company to pursue outside interests.
Giovanni Ciserani has been elected group president of global fabric and home care. Ciserani, Henretta, Riant and Taylor will report directly to Lafley.
"It does clearly elevate people to be the next generation of CEO," said Bernstein Research analyst Ali Dibadj.
In addition to the four group presidents, Dibadj thinks Melanie Healey is also a contender to succeed Lafley.
P&G announced that Healey, Group President - North America and Global Hyper, Super and Mass Channel, will directly report to Lafley, effective July 1, in addition to Werner Geissler, Vice Chairman, Global Operations. P&G said the change "reflects the size and impact of the North America market to P&G's business."
Cincinnati portfolio manager Matt McCormick said the new global presidents are the front runners to succeed Lafley, but it won't happen overnight.
"I would give A.G. some time before I start picking his replacement because he still has some work to do," said McCormick, vice president and principal at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel Inc.
Additional moves announced by P&G include the promotion of Charles E. Pierce, currently Group President – Global Oral Care. He will assume the additional responsibilities for New Business Creation and Innovation currently held by the departing Mesquita.
George Tsourapas, currently Vice President–Fabric and Home Care, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, has been elected President-Global Home Care and P&G Professional, succeeding David Taylor.