Reckitt axes global chief after merger

Reckitt & Colman’s group director of global marketing, Phillip Darnton, is to leave the company in the wake of its proposed £4.8bn merger with Dutch rival Benckiser.

Reckitt & Colman’s group director of global marketing, Phillip Darnton, is to leave the company in the wake of its proposed £4.8bn merger with Dutch rival Benckiser.

His board-level role will be axed as the company restructures along Benckiser’s US management lines.

Darnton, who was head of global detergents strategy at Unilever before joining Reckitt & Colman in 1996, will stay at the company until the merger goes through.

Reckitt acting chief executive Michael Turrell and finance director Stephen Wilson, who is understood to have brokered the deal, have also been ousted.

Benckiser chief executive Dr Bart Becht will head the management team with Reckitt chairman Alan Dalby taking the role of group chairman.

City speculation suggests there may be rival bids for Reckitt, with Unilever and Procter & Gamble as possible predators.

The merged business, which is to be called Reckitt Benckiser, will be the world’s biggest household products company – excluding laundry detergents – with an annual turnover of more than £3bn.

The companies’ brands include Vanish stain remover, Finish dishwasher tablets, Dettol disinfectant and Mr Sheen furniture polish.

It is thought McCann-Erickson’s hold on the Reckitt & Colman global advertising account may be under threat following the deal. Benckiser, which uses WCRS and Roose & Partners in the UK, is expected to take the lead in marketing following Darnton’s departure. Benckiser’s marketing director is Keith Edwards.

A spokesman says: “Darnton’s specific role will not be replaced. It is more likely that someone from Benckiser will come in.”

The media business is split between Universal McCann, which picked up the bulk of the media this month, and Carat International, which handles Reckitt’s pharmaceutical brands.

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