Tesco’s CEO Is Ready for His Close-Up

Has Dave Lewis' s second finally come?

Unilever NV has begun the process of identifying a successor in order to Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman.

Lewis, CEO  of Tesco since 2014, spent his entire preceding profession at Unilever, and has long been seen as an candidate to replace Polman.  

Assuming he desires the job, from one perspective, the time could not be worse for Lewis. He is trying to convince shareholders in order to back Tesco' s 3. seven billion pound ($4. 9 billion) takeover of Booker. Some of the group' s investors are unhappy using the deal, while there' s the risk that Booker shareholders drive for a higher price.

Yet look at it another way, and the moment couldn' t be more perfect.

Lewis is quick to point out the particular surgery he has performed at Tesco, taking the group from intensive treatment in the wake of its profit overstatement three years ago to pretty good health.

If he succeeds in incorporating Booker — and the chances are right now high given that competition authorities lately approved the deal with no penalties and also a rebellion among Tesco shareholders did not gain traction — he could feasibly argue that his turnaround is total.

So Lewis is within a prime position to hand on the reins to Charles Wilson, the particular highly regarded  CEO of Booker who is joining the Tesco table in an as-yet-unidentified senior capacity. Wilson is more than capable of integrating Booker, grinding out synergies and taking combined business to its following phase of development.

But Lewis need to be  far from  the only title in the frame. To start with, Unilever includes a clutch of internal executives who also could succeed Polman.

These include finance director Graeme Pitkethly and Alan Jope, who potential clients the personal care division. Others who have should be in the race are Nitin Paranjpe, the head of home treatment who becomes president of food items and refreshment in January, Kees Kruythoff, who leads the United states business and becomes president associated with home care in January, plus Amanda Sourry, head of foods who moves to run North America within January.

External applicants could include Wan Ling Martello, who leads Nestle SA' ersus Asian business.

Based on analysts at Bernstein, Laurent Freixe, head of Nestle' s Americas business, Stefan Heidenreich,   CEO  of Beiersdorf AG, Antoine sobre Saint-Affrique, chief executive of Barry Callebaut AG and even Kasper Rorsted, mind of of Adidas AG, is also possible candidates.

Considering that Unilever has enjoyed a re-rating since it saw off a $143 billion takeover approach from Kraft Heinz Co. earlier thi

s year — because of plans to buy back shares, increase cost saving and lift margins — internal candidates probably possess a following wind.

And that' s exactly where Lewis has the advantage. On the one hand, can easily be portrayed as being in the Unilever camp, given his lengthy history with the company. Equally, when the board does decide that an exterior perspective is needed, his stint from Tesco fits the bill.  

The danger is that within the three years since Lewis left Unilever, some of the gloss may have come off associated with his accomplishments there. He had been known as " Drastic Dave" regarding his fierce cost-cutting — could was what the company needed, this must not have won him any kind of friends.

He has already been just as aggressive in his deal with Booker. If that comes to fruition it may just pay off — and not just regarding Tesco.

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