Incoming PepsiCo supremo urges job rival not to leave

PepsiCo’s new chief executive, Indra Nooyi, has made a dramatic plea to international boss Michael White urging him to stay at the company amid mounting speculation that he will leave after being passed over for the top post.

The snacks and beverages giant announced last week that chief financial officer and president Nooyi will take over as chief executive from Steve Reinemund, who is retiring from the role in October to spend more time with his family.

But some observers were surprised that the top job did not go to White, a former PepsiCo chief financial officer. He is credited with single-handedly creating the PepsiCo International division in 2003 by merging the snacks and drinks businesses together outside North America. It is now the company’s biggest division and is seen as PepsiCo’s great hope for growth in the future.

There is speculation that White will quit the company now that the top job has gone to Nooyi, as he is keen to run a public company. It has been reported that Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Pecoriello wrote in a note that “there could be concern” about how long White would stay.

But in the handover meeting to announce Nooyi’s promotion, she said that White had been a trusted adviser to her at PepsiCo. She added/ “I can’t express how much that support means for me”, which is seen as indicating her desire that he stays on at the company.

White gave no indication that he would leave. He said: “I’m committed to helping her be successful in her new role.” It has also been reported that Nooyi has issued further reassurances that White can be an “integral part” of her team.

Reinemund is due to relinquish his additional role of chairman next May, and it is thought White could be offered his job instead.

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