IFF CEO announces his retirement, adding to executive turnover

Dive Brief:

  • International Flavors & Fragrances Chairman and CEO Andreas Fibig announced last week he will retire. Fibig has been IFF’s chairman and CEO for seven years, and he’s been with the company for a decade.
  • Fibig will stay in his position until a replacement is named by the company’s board of directors, which is expected in early 2022, and he will remain at IFF for a short time to ensure a seamless transition. The company is working with an executive search firm to find the right candidate.
  • After a year of monumental change for IFF — crowned by the company’s February $26.2 billion megamerger with the former DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences — Fibig is leaving at a high point. He’s the second high-ranking IFF executive to retire in a month. Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Rustom Jilla announced his departure on Sept. 16.

Dive Insight:

IFF is practically a different company than it was a year ago. It’s a behemoth in the ingredients space with leadership positions in taste, texture, scent, nutrition, enzymes, cultures, soy proteins and probiotics. It has reorganized, with new Nourish, Scent, Health and Biosciences and Pharma Solutions divisions. The company divested a microbial controls business that came to it through the DuPont merger and a food preparation business that came to it through a 2018 acquisition.

The reformed IFF has also performed well in terms of sales post-merger. Since sales numbers are skewed by the merger, it’s difficult to measure current performance based on quarterly reports, but Fibig said in its most recent earnings call this past August that the legacy business units of both IFF and DuPont grew in the single digits. Last month, the company updated its guidance to predict full-year 2021 sales growth of 8% and an adjusted operating EBITDA margin of about 21.5%.

But in spite of the merger and its following successes, IFF has not been seen as performing to its potential. In the weeks after the merger, activist investor Sachem Head Capital reportedly bought about a $1 billion stake in IFF. Sachem Head’s owner, hedge fund veteran Scott Ferguson, has a reputation for getting involved in companies as they are going through big changes. In response to Sachem Head’s stake, IFF expanded its board to provide a seat for Ferguson.

There is considerable optimism for IFF’s future with a new CEO. After Fibig announced his retirement, the company’s stock price jumped 6.4%, Seeking Alpha reported. A new leader has the potential to bring new ideas and concepts to IFF as it molds into a bigger and more influential company in the space.

There’s a lot of other movement at the top of IFF right now, wich could change the way the company does business. News of CFO Jilla’s departure as CFO came at the same time the company announced the hire of his replacement. Glenn Richter, IFF’s new CFO, has nearly three decades of experiencing providing financial oversight to multinational companies. He comes to IFF from financial services firm TIAA, where he was CFO.

The Nourish division, which handles much of IFF’s ingredients business, also has a new president as of Sept. 1. Nicolas Mirzayantz, who has had a 33-year tenure at IFF, had led the Scent division for 14 years and had previously been the company’s North America regional manager. The Scent division’s new president is Christophe de Villeplee, who’s worked at IFF more than two decades and had been the company’s president of global consumer fragrances.

Several months after the DuPont merger seems to be a good time for transition at the top of IFF. The company is working toward integration, and the process and policies for doing that successfully are likely already in progress for its lower levels.

Source: fooddive.com