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Meet the Pune University grad who will now lead Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser
Laxman Narasimhan | Photo Credit: PepsiCo

British consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group plc on Wednesday appointed PepsiCo Inc.’s Laxman Narasimhan as its chief executive officer to succeed Rakesh Kapoor.

He will join Reckitt as CEO-designate and will be appointed to the board as an executive director effective 16 July, the British company said in a statement. He will become Group CEO with effect from 1 September.

Narasimhan will also directly lead the company's health business unit, Reckitt said.

The appointment follows Kapoor’s decision in January to leave the maker of Dettol antiseptic, Durex condoms and Strepsils sore-throat medication by the end of 2019 after eight years at the top.

“Laxman’s initial priorities will be to focus on delivering outperformance, especially in the health business unit,” Reckitt board chairman Chris Sinclair said.

At Reckitt, Narasimhan will get a salary of 950,000 pounds (Rs 8.39 crore at current exchange rates). He will also be eligible for bonus and stock options.

Narasimhan joins Reckitt from PepsiCo where he is the global chief commercial officer responsible for the food and beverages giant's long-term growth strategy. He has been a member of the PepsiCo executive committee for four years reporting to the chairman and CEO.

At PepsiCo, he leads strategy, global category groups and global R&D. He is also implementing an advanced digital capability across the PepsiCo business, Reckitt said.

Narasimhan previously was the CEO of PepsiCo Latin America, and Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Before joining PepsiCo, Narasimhan served as a director at McKinsey & Co., spending nearly two decades at the consulting firm. He oversaw consumer-facing industries in India and led the group’s research on emerging-market digital consumers. He also led public-sector initiatives at McKinsey in India, focussing on education and skill-building.

Narasimhan has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pune. He earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and was a Palmer Scholar and JN Tata Scholar. He speaks English, German, three Indian languages and conversational Spanish, according to his profile on PepsiCo’s website.

PepsiCo’s new chief commercial officer

Meanwhile, PepsiCo said in a separate statement it has named Ram Krishnan, currently the CEO of Greater China, as its new chief commercial officer to replace Narasimhan.

Krishnan will continue to lead PepsiCo's Greater China sector at this point.

Krishnan joined PepsiCo in 2006 and became the chief marketing officer of the Frito-Lay business in 2014. In 2016, he was promoted to the role of North American commercial general manager. He was appointed to lead PepsiCo's China business in 2017.

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