Sector News

Chobani hires new CFO

April 21, 2016
Food & Drink

Chobani LLC, the maker of Greek-style yogurt, added its second finance chief in almost as many years, naming Mick Beekhuizen to the CFO position.

Mr. Beekhuizen was most recently CFO of Education Management Corp., a for-profit college that last year paid more than $95 million to settle federal charges that its recruiters used what regulators at the time described as “high pressure boiler room” tactics to unlawfully recruit students, without admitting wrongdoing.

When Mr. Beekhuizen stepped down in January after about three years, Education Management credited him with an “instrumental role” in its two-part capital restructuring a year ago, which shaved $1.3 billion in outstanding debt from the company.

Prior to joining the for-profit education company, Mr. Beekhuizen worked with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s private equity division, when Education Management was a portfolio company. Mr. Beekhuizen said he was “close to the day-to-day operations.”

Education Management’s chief executive at the time asked Mr. Beekhuizen to help stabilize the company, Mr. Beekhuizen said. The challenges it faced were too severe to avoid a restructuring, he added.

Mr. Beekhuizen said he was drawn to Chobani’s “great brand.” Chobani controls about a fifth of the U.S. yogurt market. Chobani, under founder Hamdi Ulukaya, earlier this year turned down a proposed partnership arrangement. with PepsiCo Inc. when the soft drink and snack food company wanted a majority stake.

“Everything is on the table,” Mr. Beekhuizen said, referring to Chobani’s future, including a potential initial public offering, as it balances growth with its founder’s desire to retain control. Mr. Beekhuizen said one of his first goals will be to weigh the company’s opportunities outside the U.S. with domestic ones, such as smaller markets and new products like a guava-blended yogurt that will become widely available this summer.

Mr. Beekhuizen said he will make sure the company’s finance function extends throughout the company, including sales, marketing and the supply chain, to give Chobani faster decision-making capabilities. He said he will keep his core finance team in place. “I’ve got to make sure I don’t drop that backbone,” Mr. Beekhuizen said.

Mr. Ulukaya, Chobani’s founder, in a statement praised Mr. Beekhuizen’s financial acumen and experience.

At the end of 2013, Chobani hired Dipak Golechha as CFO after an 18-year career at Procter & Gamble Co., most recently as a divisional CFO. Mr. Golechha left Chobani last year and over the summer joined NBTY Inc., a vitamin and supplements distributor.

A Chobani spokesman declined to comment on Mr. Golechha’s departure. An NBTY representative didn’t immediately make Mr. Golechha available.

By Maxwell Murphy

Source: Wall Street Journal

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