PURCHASE, N.Y. -- PepsiCo Inc. announced Tuesday that John Compton, PepsiCo's current president, has chosen to depart PepsiCo to become CEO of truckstop and travel center company Pilot Flying J Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.
As reported Wednesday in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash, PepsiCo Europe CEO Zein Abdalla has been appointed president of PepsiCo, succeeding Compton. PepsiCo executive Enderson Guimaraes has been named CEO of PepsiCo Europe, succeeding Abdalla. Guimaraes' Global Nutrition Group successor will be named shortly.
"We are sad to see John leave PepsiCo. John joined PepsiCo as a 21-year-old at the Pulaski, Tenn., Frito-Lay facility, and since that day has made countless positive contributions to this company," PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said.
Zein Abdalla"He is a humble and collaborative leader who cares deeply about both the business and developing talent. John is also passionate about his family, and what is particularly impressive about his decision is that he is choosing what is right for him and his family. I have enjoyed a long friendship with John and will miss him. I'm confident John will enjoy great future success, and we wish him all the best as he takes this unique opportunity to return to his native Tennessee," she said.
"It isn't easy leaving a company I've been a part of for 30 years," said Compton. "I love PepsiCo, and I will always be part of the PepsiCo family. I have deep and personal ties to Tennessee, and my family's plan all along has been to return to Tennessee at some point. It isn't often that the opportunity arises to run one of America's largest private companies, and this new opportunity was a once in a lifetime chance to do so. This is something I just had to do."
In announcing the appointment of Abdalla, Nooyi said, "We have drawn from our strong and seasoned cadre of business leaders in appointing Zein Abdalla as president. Zein's strategic vision, global experience and focus on execution will serve him very well in this new assignment."
She added, "Zein has demonstrated outstanding business and operational results as the leader of our European sector. During his tenure the division grew revenues from $7 billion to $14 billion; he led the transformation of the European portfolio, shifting it towards the higher-growth markets in the region; and along the way he also helped PepsiCo become the largest food and beverage company in Russia."
In his new role as President, Abdalla will oversee PepsiCo's global category groups (Global Beverages, Global Snacks and Global Nutrition), Global Operations (IT, Global Procurement, Supply Chain and Productivity), Global Marketing Services and Corporate Strategy. Working with the geographic business units, Abdalla's team will drive innovation and brand building while significantly reducing the overall cost structure of the company.
"We were surprised by the announcement as we considered Mr. Compton to be one of the frontrunners to succeed Indra Nooyi as CEO when she eventually steps down," Bonnie Herzog, managing director of beverage, tobacco and consumer research for Wells Fargo Securities LLC, New York, said in a research note. "It appears that Mr. Compton is leaving for personal reasons, as he had always planned on returning to his home state of Tennessee, where Pilot Flying J is headquartered. Despite this, we believe this announcement could raise questions over the timing of, or changes to, succession plans. We think this move clearly positions Mr. Abdalla as a leading candidate to succeed Ms. Nooyi. Furthermore, it seems to suggest a further shift away from U.S. beverage-centric leadership."
Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo is a global food and beverage leader with net revenues of more than $65 billion and a product portfolio that includes 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. Its main businesses--Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola --make hundreds of foods and beverages.