he shock departure of Reckitt Benckiser’s well-regarded chief executive after just three years in the role has hit shares of the branded goods maker, from Cillit Bang to Nurofen.
Laxman Narasimhan is leaving the FTSE 100 multinational for family reasons and “an opportunity” to return to his native United States, which City watchers have taken as a sign he may be headed for a new job at the other side of the Atlantic.
He joined the Slough-based company after being poached from PepsiCo, the world-renowned US soft drinks giant. Reckitt’s stock fell more than 4% after the news, to 6370p. It is the eleventh largest company in the UK by market value, with outstanding shares worth over £47bn.
Narasimhan said his departure comes after he was offered “an opportunity to return to the United States”, adding: “Although it is difficult to leave, it is the right decision for me and my family.”
He already serves on the board of Verizon Communications, a seat he has held since July 2021.
His total salary and retirement package at Reckitt for 2021 was worth around £6million. He received a ‘golden hello’ of £7.5m in shares and cash when he joined the maker of Gaviscon and Strepsils in 2019 and had an annual salary of £950,000.
Reckitt said its current senior independent director, Nicandro Durante, would become CEO while the board seeks what he called a “long-term” replacement. This is not Durante’s first time running a FTSE 100 company, he was the CEO of British American Tobacco for eight years until 2019. He has served on Reckitt’s board since 2013 and said that he looked forward to “continuing the momentum” of the company’s “transformation program”.
Narasimhan added: “I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Reckitt. It’s a great company with an incredible team and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished together.
Chris Sinclair, President of Reckitt, said, “I would like to thank Laxman for leading the organization through significant transformation over the past three years. We wish him and his family all the best as he realizes his desire to return to the United States.
“I have no doubt that Nicandro Durante will provide the necessary leadership for Reckitt at this important stage of transformation while we find the right long-term leader for the business.”
. departure shock CEO Reckitt Benckiser strikes the shares giant of the products consumption