CONSUMER giant Reckitt Benckiser saw up to £2bn wiped off its value yesterday after the shock announcement that boss Bart Becht is standing down.
News of his exit stunned the market and its share price dived by nine per cent at one stage, eventually closing down 7.5 per cent at £31.15.
Becht has earned an estimated £200m over last six years, with the hefty pay and perks package justified by a string of impressive results.
Becht’s long-term share options and awards have soared in value as he lifted Reckitt’s share price from £6 when it floated in 1999 to £35 last year.
But the maker of goods such as Nurofen and Cillit Bang has now been left with a gaping hole to fill to bring investors back on side.
Rakesh Kapoor, who is vice-president of global category development, will take on the role.
Andrew Wood, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein, said Becht’s retirement had been a shock.
“He is only 54 years old and we did not anticipate it so soon.
“We know very little about the character of the new CEO Rakesh Kapoor.... there was no sense he was a CEO in waiting.”
Becht will stay on as a part-time adviser to Kapoor and the company’s board until September 2012.
Kapoor is credited for growing the business with the recent purchase of SSL International, the Durex condom maker and steering the company through a tough consumer climate.