Can Lever Get The Lather Back?

New CEO Banga may have a hard time spurring growth

The decor at Lever House in Bombay is a picture of modesty; the only thing that has changed in the past 40 years is the upholstery on the office furniture. But that's what investors have long admired about Hindustan Lever Ltd., India's $2.4 billion consumer-products giant: It's a no-frills company that offers solid value for its customers--and superb returns for its investors. That's also what has made Hindustan Lever a star in the stable of its parent, Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever PLC. The Indian unit contributes almost 10% of group profit and provides talented managers for Unilever's global operations.

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