Monday, November 29, 1999

Sara Lee CEO to take medical leave of absence

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New York, May 16 (PTI) Global consumer goods firm Sara Lee Corp said its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brenda C Barnes, would take a medical leave of absence, effective immediately. The company, which agreed to sell its 51 per cent stake in its joint venture with Indian company Godrej to Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, said in a statement on Friday that Chief Financial Officer Marcel Smits would serve as interim CEO in Barnes'' absence. James Crown, its lead independent director, would assume the role of chairman, it added. However, the company did not comment on Barnes'' health status or when she would be joining office. "We wish Brenda a speedy recovery and look forward to her return," Crown said, adding, "Out of respect for Brenda''s privacy, we will not be commenting further." In addition, the US-based company said it formed an Office of the Chairman comprised of Crown, Smits and Christopher John Fraleigh, the CEO of its North American retail and food service operations, in an effort "to ensure the continued effective execution of strategic initiatives and further enhance operational efficiencies." Sara Lee last week said it would sell its 51 per cent stake in its joint venture with Indian company Godrej to Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL)for 185 million euros (about Rs 1,065 crore). The 15-year-old joint venture, Godrej Sara Lee, primarily markets insecticides, including leading mosquito repellent brands Good Knight and Hit, air freshener Ambi Pur and shoe polish Kiwi, in India. Sara Lee said the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close before the end of its fiscal year on July 3, 2010. Following the acquisition of Sara Lee''s stake, GCPL claimed it would become the second largest household insecticides player in Asia, excluding Japan.

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