Kraft Announces Leaders of Split Company

Kraft Foods Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld will take on those titles of the new global snacks company, while a Kraft EVP and a newcomer from the private equity world will lead the new grocery entity after the Northfield, Ill.-based food giant splits in two late next year.

Rosenfeld, 58, will be chairman and CEO of the global snacks company, with $31 billion in estimated revenue and a significant presence in numerous fast-growing, international markets.

W. Anthony (Tony) Vernon, 55, currently executive VP and president of Kraft Foods North America, will become CEO of the $17 billion North American grocery company, one of the largest food and beverage companies on the continent.

John T. Cahill, 54, currently an industrial partner of private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC, will become non-executive chairman of the North American grocery company. Initially, he will serve as executive chairman, reflecting the tremendous effort required to launch and transition to a public company. Cahill will join Kraft in January to begin work on the separation.

“Irene, John and Tony are three of the finest executives in business today,” said Mark Ketchum, lead director of Kraft’s board of directors. “Their commitment to shareholder value, passion for brands and focus on sound financial management give the Board great confidence in the future of the snacks and grocery companies.”

As CEO of Kraft Foods since 2006 and chairman since 2007, Rosenfeld has led Kraft’s transformation, improving the face, footprint and prospects of the company and enabling it to deliver top-tier results. She has 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, including building several major businesses; integrating Nabisco; leading Kraft through its spin-off from Altria; and leading the LU and Cadbury acquisitions.

“Irene was the obvious choice to lead the global snacks company,” Ketchum said. “As a result of her bold vision, courage to transform Kraft Foods’ portfolio and investment in core brands and high-growth developing markets, we are now able to launch two formidable world-class companies.”

Vernon joined Kraft in 2009 as president of its North American business. Before then, he spent more than 20 years with Johnson & Johnson, where he built many of its largest consumer brands, including Tylenol, Motrin and Pepcid. “I’m delighted that Tony will become CEO of the grocery company,” Rosenfeld said. “His focus on marketing innovation, new products and on disciplined cost control has set our North American business on a new trajectory, and I have great confidence in the future.”

Cahill’s food and beverage experience includes several senior finance positions with PepsiCo and KFC. He served as chairman and CEO of The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc., which separated from PepsiCo in 1999. Today, in addition to his role as a partner of Ripplewood Holdings, he serves on the boards of Colgate-Palmolive and Legg Mason.

“John’s stellar track record in the food and beverage industry includes his service as chairman of a major public company,” Ketchum. “His broad expertise, financial acumen and significant experience in spinning off public companies will contribute greatly to launching and building a free-standing grocery company.”

The partnership between Cahill and Vernon is expected to ensure a smooth transition to an independent public company, while maintaining the momentum Vernon has built in the grocery business. In broad terms, Vernon, as CEO, will lead the business, and Cahill, as chairman, will focus on public company, financial and strategic matters. Until the spin-off, the management structure of Kraft Foods will remain in place.

With revenue approaching $50 billion, Kraft Foods Inc. markets biscuits, confectionery, beverages, cheese, grocery products and convenient meals in approximately 170 countries. Its brands include Cadbury, Maxwell House, Nabisco, Oreo, Oscar Mayer and Trident. 

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