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New Co-chairmen Selected to Lead Global Commerce Initiative

BANGKOK, Thailand - Cees van der Hoeven, CEO of Royal Ahold, and Antony Burgmans, chairman of Unilever, have been chosen to take over as co-chairmen of the Global Commerce Initiative, a worldwide advisory group for the development of voluntary electronic transaction standards for business.

Van der Hoeven and Burgmans succeed the two founding co-chairmen of GCI, Luc Vandevelde, chairman and CEO of Marks & Spencer plc, and Christian Koffmann, worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson, Consumer and Personal Care Group.

Commenting on the first two years of GCI's existence, Luc Vandevelde pointed to the accelerated pace of change in the conduct of business transactions across continents: "When we first came together in Paris in 1999 we had an instinctive notion of the need for global standards in the way we conduct our business. Today, with the rapid emergence of Internet Exchanges and improved information technology, the pressure on all of us to develop a common language of business is more intense and more immediate than we could ever have imagined."

Founded in October 1999, the Global Commerce Initiative is the result of joint industry efforts in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia where, since the early '90s, working collaborations have been developing between stakeholders of all sizes across the complex supply chain for consumer goods. Made possible by some of the world's best-known companies, they include the Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) movements in Europe, North and South America and Asia, together with the Voluntary Inter-industry Commerce Standards Association (VICS) in North America, EAN International and UCC, CIES - The Food Business Forum, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), AIM - the European Brands Association, and the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA).
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