Unilever today appointed Paul Polman, 52, currently executive vice president and zone director for the Americas at Nestlé SA, as group chief executive to succeed Patrick Cescau, who will retire from Unilever at the end of the year after 35 years, the last four initially as chairman and then as the company's first group chief executive.
Polman will be proposed for appointment to the board at the extraordinary general meetings to be convened during the autumn and take over as group chief executive following an orderly transition.
Michael Treschow, chairman of Unilever, said, ''Patrick has had an outstanding career. We are greatly in his debt for the transformation he has brought about over the last four years. The performance of the business has improved markedly under his leadership. Liked and admired in equal measure, Patrick leaves a substantial record on which to build.
''At the same time, we are very pleased to welcome Paul Polman. He is a great talent with significant international experience and an excellent track record. He has all the attributes necessary to build on Patrick's achievements. We are delighted that he has agreed to join the business and to lead Unilever into the next stage of its development.''
Patrick Cescau said, ''Four years ago we set out to transform Unilever and to get the business back on track. I believe that phase of work is largely complete, so now is exactly the right time to pass on the baton.
''It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead such a great business. I leave with a real sense of pride in what has been achieved, but also great confidence in the company's ability to pursue the opportunities that lie ahead.''
Patrick Cescau was born on 27 September, 1948. He joined Unilever in 1973 and was elected to the board as finance director in 1999. He subsequently served as foods director and was appointed chairman of Unilever PLC and vice Chairman of Unilever NV in 2004.
He became the company's first ever group chief executive on the creation of that office in April 2005.
Paul Polman joined Nestlé in 2006 as chief financial officer.
Prior to that he had a 26 year career in Procter & Gamble, becoming group president, Europe, a position he held from 2001 - 2005.