Reckitt Benckiser ditches CFO after culture clash

 
Michael Bow
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CONSUMER goods giant Reckitt Benckiser yesterday ditched its current chief financial officer Liz Doherty in favour of Smith & Nephew’s Adrian Hennah, after it admitted Doherty was not “well matched” to the firm.

Doherty, who was appointed in January 2011, will remain working at the company until March 2013. Hennah will join in December 2012, giving a three-month overlap period between the two.

The consumer goods powerhouse, which is one of the top 25 firms on the FTSE, issued a frank statement to the market saying Doherty’s departure was caused by a mismatch in working styles.

The firm, known for its lean managerial structure, makes products such as Nurofen, Strepsils and Gaviscon and senior management are expected to have a hands-on role. It is understood Doherty was not a “good fit” for the firm’s specific way of working.

Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said: “Liz and I have agreed that RB’s and her way of working are not as well matched as either of us would like, and now is the right time for her to move to a new opportunity.”

Hennah, who has been chief financial officer at Smith & Nephew since 2006, will take up the CFO position at the end of year to help push the firm’s health and hygiene businesses into emerging markets such as China.

“I now feel this is the appropriate time to take for me to take the next step in my career,” he said yesterday.

Hennah, who is also non-executive director of Reed Elsevier, spent most of his career in the pharmaceutical world working for GlaxoSmithKline before taking up the role of CFO at engineering firm Invensys in 2002.

Numis analyst Charles Weston said: “He is leaving to a business four to five times larger by market cap, so one assumes there’s a reasonably good reason. Clearly he’s a good, conservative CFO who had a good handle on the business.”

Kapoor announced a strategy change in February to push the higher margin health and hygiene products, known as “Powerbrands” into growth markets.

Kapoor said Hennah’s global experience would be “very valuable” in extending its brands internationally.