Nitin Paranjpe to be global head of Unilever's home care unit, Sanjiv Mehta, CEO, HUL

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has announced a major reshuffle of the top management of its Indian arm Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) by appointing Sanjiv Mehta as its new CEO and managing director and elevating the current CEO and MD Nitin Paranjpe as president (home care) at the parent company Unilever.

Sanjiv Mehta and Nitin ParanjpeUnilever also on Thursday reported a 14 per cent jump in first-half 2013 profit to €2.43 billion ($3.2 billion), buoyed by strong growth in food products, especially tea and ice cream, and emerging market sales.

The Rotterdam-based group reported a 0.4 per cent year-on-year increase in its first-half global sales to €25.5 billion, mainly on the back of growth in emerging markets.

Paranjpe, 50, who has been the CEO of HUL for the last five years, will assume charge as global CEO (home care) effective 1 October 2013.

Paranjpe is also an executive vice president of Unilever companies in South Asia.

The new CEO and managing director of HUL, Sanjiv Mehta, 53, who was earlier the chairman for the North Africa and the Middle East (NAME) regions, will now also be responsible for South Asia cluster, which includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Mehta, who led several Unilever businesses across South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East since October 1992, however, has not operated in the Indian market.

''The changes reflect our strong commitment towards leadership development and our tradition of leveraging experiences and synergies of talent across markets. I wish to take the opportunity to express my deep appreciation for the significant contribution that Paranjpe made to the business in India and his leadership in driving the growth agenda. I would like to congratulate him on his richly deserved elevation to the ULE,'' Harish Manwani, chairman of HUL, said.

Unilever's profit soared mainly on sales of food items like tea and ice cream, mostly in emerging markets such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan. But the group was cautious about the outlook.

''We are delivering more profitable innovations, improving mix and continuing to apply a rigorous approach to supply chain costs and savings,'' Unilever chief executive, Paul Polman said in a statement.

''Ice cream (sales) grew globally, despite poor weather in Europe and the United States, reflecting that we are no longer so dependent on the European summer,'' Unilever added.

Unilever, one of the world's leading consumer goods companies, owns a variety of brands such as Lipton Yellow Label tea, Magnum ice cream, Knorr, Omo washing powder, Vaseline and Dove.

The group's net debt, however, increased to €11.6 billion at the end of June 2013, from €7.4 billion at the end of last year, mainly on the $3.2 billion buy-back of HUL that raised Unilever's stake in HUL to 67 per cent.