PepsiCo names Ramon Laguarta President; makes other senior leadership appointments

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PepsiCo on Thursday announced the appointment of Ramon Laguarta, a 20-year veteran of the beverage giant as President, filling the number-two position in the company and a slot that has been vacant since 2014 when the former president, Zein Abdalla left the firm.

In his new role, the 53-year old Laguarta will oversee PepsiCo’s global category groups; its global operations, corporate strategy, and public policy, and government affairs, as well as PepsiCo’s Foundation.

The current CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, said that Laguarta’s ascension to the president slot does not mean he is being set-up to eventually assume the CEO position. Instead, his promotion is intended to “stretch” current execs at the company to prepare them to potentially take on larger leadership roles later.

There is no heir apparent,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “When the time comes for succession, whenever it is, I think the wonderful thing is our board is going to have so many people to choose from.”

PepsiCo’s main rival, Coca-Cola, in May transferred the mantle of leadership from its former CEO Muhtar Kent to James Quincey, its former chief operating officer as soft drinks which were once the mainstay of the industry fall out of favour with consumers and the industry tries to diversify its offerings.

Laguarta has been the CEO of PepsiCo’s European division since January 2015, and Sub-Saharan Africa was added to his responsibilities later in July of the same year. In that role, he was credited with growing sales and attaining the highest profit increases in the most recent earnings report – through productivity gains and restructuring, changes that headquarters would certainly like to see replicated across the company.

While Laguarta moves up to headquarters, Laxman Narasimhan, current CEO, Latin America (LATAM) will become CEO of two divisions – LATAM and Europe Sub-Sahara Africa (ESSA) divisions. In his new role, he will oversee the company’s food and beverage business across both regions, with a focus on unlocking new growth opportunities for the two organisations, sharing commercial strategies and other best practices, and investing in talent development. He will report to PepsiCo’s CEO Nooyi.

Silviu Popovici, currently President, Russia, Ukraine and CIS will become the President, Europe Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA) and will report to Narasimhan.

PepsiCo is the world’s second largest beverage company, behind Coca-Cola and is sold in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. The company generated $63bn in net revenue in 2016, driven by complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay chips, Gatorade, Quaker and Tropicana.

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