NEW YORK — PepsiCo Inc announced today that Indra Nooyi would step down as its longtime chief executive officer, handing the reins to company veteran Ramon Laguarta at a time when the beverage maker navigates a challenging global soda market.
Laguarta will take over on October 3 and will also join the board, the company said in a statement.
A 22-year veteran of PepsiCo, Laguarta oversaw global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs in his role as president. He has also served as CEO of the company’s Europe Sub-Saharan Africa division.
He was elevated to president in September of last year and was widely expected to succeed Nooyi, though at the time of his appointment Nooyi said she would remain CEO “for the foreseeable future”.
Leading PepsiCo has truly been the honor of my lifetime, and I’m incredibly proud of all we have done over the past 12 years to advance the interests not only of shareholders, but all our stakeholders in the communities we serve,” said Nooyi. “Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company. Guided by our philosophy of Performance with Purpose—delivering sustained performance while making more nutritious products, limiting our environmental footprint and lifting up all the communities we serve—we’ve made a more meaningful impact in people’s lives than I ever dreamed possible. PepsiCo today is in a strong position for continued growth with its brightest days still ahead.”
Nooyi continued: “Ramon Laguarta is exactly the right person to build on our success. He is a terrific executive with a long and proven track record of growing businesses. He has a deep understanding of the changing preferences of consumers and other critical trends unfolding around the world, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to navigate them successfully. Ramon has been a critical partner in running the company, and I’m confident he will take PepsiCo to new and greater heights in the years to come.”
Under Nooyi’s 12-year tenure as CEO, she has boosted sales of the Mountain Dew and Gatorade maker to $63.5 billion, up 80% from when she started. The company’s share price has risen 78 percent in the same period.
She is also largely credited with re-shaping Pepsi with tactical mergers and shifting to healthier drinks over sugary sodas – moving to juices and teas.
Recently, she has focused on reinvigorating sales of its marquee sodas by stepping up marketing efforts, in a bid to win market share from Coca-Cola Co.
“With a deep understanding of PepsiCo’s international operations, and a broader understanding of the total company portfolio in his role as president, we believe that Laguarta is well-placed to continue executing on PepsiCo’s current strategy,” analysts at Cowen & Co said.
Nooyi will remain chairman of the board until early 2019.