Campbell Soup announces new CEO after settling proxy fight

Campbell Soup has a new CEO.The company said on Thursday that Mark Clouse, who has held executive pos...

Posted: Dec 21, 2018 8:51 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 8:51 AM

Campbell Soup has a new CEO.

The company said on Thursday that Mark Clouse, who has held executive positions at Pinnacle Foods and Mondelez International, will take over as president and CEO of the soup company in late January. Clouse will replace interim CEO Keith McLoughlin, who filled the role after Denise Morrison abruptly abandoned her post as CEO in May.

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McLoughlin will remain on as a board director, and Clouse will also take a seat on the board.

After a turbulent year, things seem to be settling down for the soup company.

Campbell (CPB) spent the fall locked in a fight for control of the company with Third Point, a hedge fund led by activist investor Daniel Loeb.

Third Point recommended replacing the entire board in September, after Campbell said it wasn't planning to sell the company. Third Point later sued the company and accused Campbell of making boring, expensive soup; Campbell said that Third Point's ideas were unoriginal and uninformed.

Over time, Third Point softened its stance. The hedge fund, which always faced tough odds, said it wanted to replace five instead of all 12 members of the board.

Last month, the two sides finally reached an agreement by expanding the Campbell board from 12 to 14 members to include two of the five nominees suggested by Third Point. The hedge fund was also given a say in selecting the new CEO.

With the proxy fight behind it and Clouse at the helm, Campbell can lean into its plan to turn the company around by bolstering its most popular brands, focusing on its core US business and divesting from its international line and Campbell Fresh — which includes Bolthouse Farms juices, carrots and salad dressings.

"I am committed to delivering Campbell's strategic objectives," Clouse said in a statement on Thursday, adding that he sees "a prosperous future for Campbell and all of its stakeholders." Les Vinney, chairman of the Campbell board, said "we are confident that Mark is the right person to continue our turnaround plan and lead Campbell to future growth."

Clouse served as the CEO of Pinnacle, which includes Duncan Hines, Smart Balance and other food brands, for two-and-a-half years. He was at the helm of the company when it was acquired by Conagra (CAG) earlier this year. Before that, Clouse was chief growth officer at Mondelez (MDLZ). And prior to joining Mondelez, he spent 20 years at Kraft (KHC).

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