Delhaize Group Hires New General Counsel

Delhaize Group has appointed Maura Abeln Smith EVP, general counsel and general secretary of the Brussels-based retail conglomerate, effective May 2. Smith, formerly EVP, government affairs; general counsel; and secretary of PepsiCo, will become a member of the Delhaize Group executive committee and report directly to the company’s CEO, Pierre-Olivier Beckers. She succeeds Michael Waller, who is retiring as planned.

“Michael will be missed,” said Beckers. “His mastery of the law, impeccable integrity, and skill at simplifying complex issues and identifying key strategic points, has made him a trusted advisor to both me and the Delhaize Group board of directors.”

Of Smith, Beckers noted that “she brings deep legal and governmental affairs experience, a global perspective, and a wealth of knowledge in business transformation to our group.”

Smith brings more than 30 years of corporate legal experience to her new position. Before joining PepsiCo, she was SVP, general counsel, secretary and head of global government relations at International Paper. During her eight years there, she played a key role in the company’s transformation into a global leader in the packaging and paper industry, helping to redeploy $11 billion of capital through a selective mixture of asset disposition and reinvestment.

She also spent five years at Owens Corning where she was EVP, general counsel, secretary and, from 2000, chief restructuring officer and a member of the board of directors. She advised the CEO and board on the legal and financial implications of the company’s asbestos litigation, and guided reorganization efforts. Smith also worked at General Electric, in the GE Plastics division, where she was VP and general counsel for nearly seven years. Before GE, she was a partner at the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie.

Among Smith’s educational accomplishments, she was one of the first women awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where she earned an advanced degree in economics.

Waller has been Delhaize Group’s EVP, general counsel and secretary since 2001. During his time with the company, he built the group legal function from scratch into the integrated global function it is currently. He will remain as EVP of the group through June 30 to facilitate a smooth transition for Smith into her new roles.

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