By and  on November 9, 2007

In a seismic cultural shift, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has reached outside its world of prestige beauty to recruit Fabrizio Freda, until recently president of the Global Snacks division of Procter & Gamble Co., as the beauty group's next president and chief operating officer, with plans to promote him to chief executive officer within 24 months.

William P. Lauder, now the firm's president and ceo, said in an interview Thursday that "my obligation for the next number of months is to prepare the way for Fabrizio to be successful as our next ceo."

When the board approves Freda, 50, as ceo, it also will tackle the question of whether Lauder, 46, will become chairman. His father, Leonard A. Lauder, is currently chairman.

Freda's appointment will take effect March 3, at which time Lauder will give up the title of president.

The company has been expected for some time to name a successor to Dan Brestle, who has been chief operating officer since Jan. 1, 2005, and, at age 62, had been thought to be in line for retirement. He will become vice chairman and president of Estée Lauder Cos., North America.

No other changes are expected, a spokeswoman said, meaning the other top executives will remain in place.

At a time when pressure is mounting on the beauty group because of consolidation in its key U.S. department store channel, Lauder indicated he recruited Freda to inject a fresh viewpoint into the company, plus a renewal of disciplined thinking and analytical judgment. "I love the way he thinks," Lauder said, referring to the way Freda approaches opportunities and analytical questions. His combination of intellectual approach as well as emotional understanding "will allow him to be successful in our company," he said.

Lauder added that Freda's background with P&G, where he is now based in Rome, provides a European sense of global branding. Since Lauder is a company rooted in global branding from an American vantage, the new combination will provide a synergy "that will work well," Lauder said. Freda also will bring with him the rigorous approach and depth of experience at P&G.

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