D.E Master Blenders Said to Name Former Mars Exec as CEO

D.E Master Blenders 1753 NV, the coffee company being acquired by investment firm Joh. A. Benckiser, will appoint former Mars Inc. executive Pierre Laubies as chief executive officer once the deal is approved by shareholders, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Laubies, an adviser at CVC Capital Partners who previously ran Mars’s global pet food business, replaces Michiel Herkemij, who left in December after only 12 months in charge. The Amsterdam-based company may announce the move today provided it obtains sufficient shares to close its tender offer, said the person, who declined to be identified because the appointment has not been made public.

Master Blenders is also poised to name JAB co-chiefs Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet to its board, along with Byron Trott, head of BDT Capital Partners LLC, the Chicago-based investment firm that’s helping fund the deal, the person said.

Sophie Wassenaar, a spokeswoman for Master Blenders, said by telephone that the company couldn’t immediately comment.

Laubies joins the maker of Douwe Egberts coffee as JAB, the Vienna-based investment arm of the billionaire Reimann family, seeks to take control in a 7.5 billion-euro ($10 billion) deal, the coffee industry’s biggest ever. The acquisition, which will give JAB a platform to expand its coffee business, is subject to shareholders controlling 95 percent tendering their shares, and can proceed with a minimum of 80 percent. The acceptance period, which had been extended by four weeks, ended yesterday.

Growth Goal

The new CEO will look to reignite sales growth that was at the bottom of a forecast range in the 12 months through June as demand declined in Western Europe. Jan Bennink, who oversaw the company’s spin off from Sara Lee Corp. last year, has run Master Blenders during the search for a successor. Bennink has set a goal of supplanting Mondelez International Inc. to become the world’s second-biggest coffee maker after Nestle SA.

Laubies served two stints at closely-held candy and pet-food maker Mars, where Goudet is the former chief financial officer. Laubies joined Mars in 1985 and left to run Campbell Soup Co.’s European operations in 1999. He rejoined Mars in 2002 and ran its Latin American and European units before becoming president of pet care, Mars’s largest business, in 2009. He left the company last year.

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