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Unilever's Big Spring Cleaning

Management changes set the stage for a succession battle at the Anglo-Dutch personal products giant

Unilever turned another corner in its long road back to health yesterday when the maker of Vaseline and Hellmann's mayonnaise unveiled an executive reshuffle and consolidated two major divisions as part of its never-ending effort to streamline an unwieldy stable of personal care and food products.

The changes, which come nearly four years since chief executive Patrick Cescau instituted the "One Unilever" programme that has led to a cull of about 30,000 jobs and a raft of business divestments, were billed by the company as the last major structural change under a strategy aimed at getting the company back to an equal footing with rivals such as Reckitt Benckiser and Procter & Gamble. The changing of the guard also sets the stage for the succession tussle likely to come.