Unilever CEO Paul Polman retires after 10 years

Unilever CEO Paul Polman is retiring at the end of the year after a decade in charge of one of the world’s biggest consumer goods businesses.

Polman is stepping down after losing a bruising fight with shareholders over his plan to move the Anglo-Dutch company’s headquarters out of the United Kingdom.

Unilever (UL) , which owns brands including Dove, Lipton and Ben <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>& Jerry’s, had argued that switching to a single head office in Amsterdam would simplify its structure and give it more flexibility to buy or sell brands./ppBut some big investors objected and the plan was dropped./ppThe decision to ditch the relocation was viewed as a blow to executives including Polman, who initiated the review of the company’s structure last year after brushing off a takeover attempt from Kraft Heinz (a href=”https://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=KHC” target=”_blank”KHC/a)./ppUnilever touted the success the company has enjoyed under Polman’s leadership, saying it had delivered total shareholder returns of 290% during his tenure as CEO./ppAndrew Wood, an analyst at Bernstein, said Polman deserved credit for introducing changes that made Unilever highly competitive./pp”Polman has been an exceptionally good CEO of Unilever,” Wood wrote in a research note. “It is sometimes worthwhile taking time to remember just how poorly managed and perceived Unilever was in 2008.”/ppBut the CEO had alienated some investors by focusing on sustainable living in recent years, he added. In 2016, a href=”https://money.cnn.com/2016/01/21/news/poverty-climate-change-davos-opinion/index.html” target=”_blank”Polman argued in an opinion piece for CNN/a that companies should make sustainable development part of their core mission./ppPolman will be succeeded by Alan Jope, the current head of the group’s beauty and personal care business./ppJope is a Unilever (a href=”https://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=UL” target=”_blank”UL/a) veteran, having joined its marketing department in 1985./ppHe previously ran the company’s north Asia business, and served as president of its operations in Russia, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent a decade in senior roles in the United States./ppBernstein’s Wood said that Jope had been considered the favorite to take over from Polman./pp”Jope is a high quality internal candidate who should be capable of continuing on with Polman’s good work,” he added.