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Master Blenders Gains as Bennink Takes Charge: Amsterdam Mover

D.E Master Blenders 1753 NV rose in Amsterdam trading as investors placed their trust in Chairman Jan Bennink following the surprise departure of Chief Executive Officer Michiel Herkemij a year into the job.

Master Blenders rose as much as 2.3 percent, after initially declining as much as 1.7 percent. The stock was up 1.9 percent at 8.91 euros as of 10:22 a.m. local time.

Bennink will serve as interim CEO until Herkemij’s replacement is found, the Amsterdam-based company said yesterday after markets closed. While Herkemij and the board agreed on the strategy to be pursued, they differed on the speed of implementation, according to the maker of Douwe Egberts coffee, which was spun off from Sara Lee Corp. in June.

“Bennink’s commitment to stay on board as long as is needed will provide some comfort to the market,” Marco Gulpers, an analyst at ING in Amsterdam, wrote in a research note following a conference call with the company.

Herkemij, a former Heineken NV executive who was hired by chairman and fellow Dutchman Bennink last year, will depart at the end of 2012 “by mutual consent,” Master Blenders said.

The departure is the latest in a series of blows for the company, which in August said it would restate earnings because of accounting irregularities in Brazil and in October reported first-quarter revenue that trailed estimates.

“While no update on current trading was provided, it was quite clear that Bennink was, like the market, disappointed about the slow start to the year,” Gulpers wrote.

Joh. A. Benckiser, the investment firm run by Bart Becht that raised its stake in Master Blenders to 15.05 percent in October, said it was not behind the departure.

“JAB is not involved in management decisions of D.E Master Blenders,” Elke Neujahr, a spokeswoman for the Reimann family that controls JAB, said in an e-mail.

Master Blenders has revamped its Senseo system with new packaging and flavors and has said it plans to expand into new regions. The company has introduced a machine called Sarista that uses whole beans and is aimed at coffee aficionados.

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