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Kraft Foods brings back company veteran as CFO

February 18, 2015
Food & Drink
(Reuters) – Kraft Foods Group Inc named James Kehoe, the chief financial officer of Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear Inc, as its CFO as part of a management shakeup under new Chief Executive John Cahill.
 
Kehoe, who had spent more than two decades at Kraft before joining Gildan, was the Canadian company’s CFO for less than two months.
 
“While the timing of this change is not ideal, the opportunity with Kraft is something I could not pass up given my extensive history with the company and its people,” Kehoe said in a statement on Tuesday.
 
Kehoe will take over from Teri List-Stoll, who steps down on Feb. 28.
 
Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough termed the timing of the announcement as “odd”.
 
“If (Kehoe) was ready and so capable of being the CFO of the company today, what’s changed since late 2013 when List-Stoll came on board?” Yarbrough said.
 
Kraft, the maker of Velveeta cheese and Oscar Mayer meats, said last week that List-Stoll and two other senior executives would step down, about two months after Cahill, the company’s chairman, took over as CEO from Tony Vernon.
 
The shakeup comes at a time when Kraft is battling sluggish demand in the United States, where many consumers want fresher foods with higher quality ingredients.
 
Yarbrough said Kehoe was a natural fit. “He knows the business inside and out … he’ll hit the ground running,” he said.
 
Kraft split into two companies in 2012, with Kraft Foods focusing on grocery products in North America and Mondelez International Inc on snack products such as Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolates.
 
Kehoe spearheaded the financial structuring of Kraft Foods during the spinoff. He also briefly served as senior vice president at Mondelez before joining Gildan.
 
Gildan said Laurence Sellyn, who was the company’s CFO prior to Kehoe, will assume his former responsibilities as the company resumes its search to find his successor.
 
Kraft Foods shares fell as much as 1.3 percent to $63.60 in early trading on the Nasdaq. The stock had gained about 12 percent in the three months to Friday’s close.
 
Gildan’s shares were down 1.8 percent in Toronto.
 
By Devika Krishna Kumar (Editing by Ted Kerr and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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