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ConAgra names CEO, Chairman of potato business spinoff

July 14, 2016
Consumer Packaged Goods

ConAgra Foods Inc. on Wednesday provided more details on its previously announced plan to spin off its Lamb Weston potato business, naming Thomas Werner and Timothy McLevish chief executive and executive chairman, respectively.

The split of Lamb Weston will rid ConAgra of most of its existing business selling foods to restaurants and other commercial customers, leaving it to focus on its dozens of grocery-store brands, which include Peter Pan peanut butter, PAM cooking spray, Hebrew National hot dogs and Gulden’s mustard.

ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly said the separation will create two focused companies and that “tremendous progress” has been made since last November when the plan was announced. The spinoff is on track for this fall.

Mr. Werner, 50 years old, currently leads the company’s Lamb Weston and food service businesses, as well as the Spicetec flavors and Seasonings and JM Swank operations, which are being divested. He was previously interim president of ConAgra’s private brands and has held a series of finance and managerial positions throughout the company.

Mr. McLevish, 61, is currently a director. He was formerly finance chief at Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and now serves as a consultant to the company. He previously held various positions within Kraft Foods Group and Kraft Foods Inc., including CFO.

Lamb Weston’s portfolio will include frozen potato, sweet potato, appetizer and other vegetable products, as well as a continued presence in retail frozen products under licensed brands and private brands. The remaining business, ConAgra Brands, will consist of the operations currently in ConAgra’s consumer foods segment—which includes Marie Callender’s, Hunt’s, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Chef Boyardee, Orville Redenbacher’s, P.F. Chang’s and Healthy Choice—and the food service business.

Shares of ConAgra, inactive premarket, have risen 13% this year so far to $47.72.

By Anne Steele

Source: Wall Street Journal

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