Unilever Names Bayer CEO Dekkers to Succeed Treschow as Chairman

  • Dekkers will step down as head of German drugmaker in April
  • Treschow had served as chairman of Dove owner since 2007

Unilever, the maker of Dove soaps and Lipton tea, said outgoing Bayer AG Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers will succeed Michael Treschow as its chairman.

Dekkers, a 58-year-old Dutchman who’s stepping down as CEO of the German drugmaker in April, will be nominated for election at Unilever’s annual general meeting that same month, the company said in a statement. Treschow, a 72-year-old Swede, joined Unilever in 2007 as its first independent, non-executive chairman after the Anglo-Dutch company scrapped its longtime system of having dual Dutch and U.K. chairmen.

Dekkers’s arrival comes as Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman is grappling with tougher market conditions, particularly in emerging regions like China and Brazil that account for about 60 percent of its sales. He will also have to help decide what to do with its struggling spreads unit amid speculation that the company is edging closer to a sale of the business whose brands include Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

Dekkers had extended his five-year contract, which was set to expire at the end of 2014, by only two years because of family reasons, the drugmaker said in June 2014. Shares of Bayer have more than doubled during his tenure.

Unilever’s governance guidelines call for directors to step down after nine years. The company also said Hixonia Nyasulu will retire from the board in April. The departing directors will be replaced by Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of telecom company Econet Wireless, and Youngme Moon of Harvard Business School.

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