James Kilts: The Snacks, Just The Snacks

Is James Kilts the secret ingredient Nabisco needs? The new chief executive of the food subsidiary of RJR Nabisco is expected to make his mark quickly by shedding noncore products to focus on snack foods.

Divesting ancillary businesses and creating market synergies were Kilts's claim to fame at Philip Morris' Kraft Foods division. Kilts, 49, vastly expanded profits there before resigning in March to search for a corporation to run. He got his chance on Nov. 21, when Nabisco Chief John Greeniaus, 52, said he would leave Nabisco for health reasons. "Kilts has been perfectly groomed for the job," says Gary Stibel of New England Consulting Group.

Wall Street agrees. "Greeniaus was a marketing whiz," says Timothy Swanson of A.G. Edwards, "but this is the time when Nabisco needs to focus on what it does best." Now the question is: What next for Nabisco? Parent RJR Nabisco has said it wants to spin off the food subsidiary, and Kilts, a hands-on operator, apparently believes it will happen soon.

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