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Cescau to Retire as Unilever Chief

Nestle's Paul Polman set to assume helm of Anglo-Dutch consumer giant.

LONDON – Patrick Cescau, Unilever’s group chief executive, will retire at the end of the year, the company has announced. His intended successor, Paul Polman, who is currently executive vice president and zone director for the Americas at Nestle, will be proposed for appointment to the company’s board at extraordinary general meetings this fall.

“He will take over as group chief executive following an orderly transition,” the firm stated.

Cescau, who became the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant’s first group chief executive in 2005 after combining the previously separate roles of Unilever NV chairman and Unilever plc chairman, is a 35-year company veteran.

Polman, 52, began his Nestle career in 2006 as chief financial officer. Prior to that he spent 26 years at Procter & Gamble, holding the title of group president Europe from 2001 to 2005.

Cescau has spearheaded Unilever’s drive to streamline its business, which has involved selling off non-core brands, such as Boursin cheese, planning for the elimination of 20,000 jobs over a four-year period and rejiggering the company’s structure.

Unilever’s beauty portfolio, which includes boldfaced names such as Dove, Pond’s, Vaseline, Sunsilk and Rexona, was third after L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble in WWD Beauty Biz’s most recent Beauty’s Top 100, which ranked firms’ businesses by their 2007 beauty sales.

For complete coverage, see Friday’s issue of WWD.