Sodexo board names founder's daughter as next chairman

PARIS Mon Dec 2, 2013 2:19am EST

PARIS Dec 2 (Reuters) - The founder and chairman of restaurant services group Sodexo, Pierre Bellon, will be replaced as head of the board by his daughter in January 2016, the board said on Monday.

The family-controlled firm, which sells meal vouchers and does catering for companies, will continue to be led by chief executive Pierre Landel.

Bellon wanted one of his four children to succeed him, but did not want to choose, so he asked them to organise a process to evaluate the best candidate, he said in an interview with le Figaro newspaper.

Sophie Bellon was the unanimous choice made by a panel of four board members and ratified on Nov. 29, said Bellon.

Sophie Bellon has been on the board of Sodexo since 1989 and has held operational roles at the company since 1994, including client relations and head of the corporate segment in France.

"Through her different functions, she has developed an extensive knowledge of the Group, its clients and its teams," said the board of directors in a statement.

Pierre Bellon has created a holding company to protect the family's interests in which 38 percent of Sodexo is stored to shield it from a hostile takeover.

Sodexo shares are up 16 percent this year, lagging an 18 percent rise for France's blue-chip index, and closed at 73.94 euros on Friday. The company has a market capitalisation of 11.6 billion euros ($15.8 billion).

($1 = 0.7345 euros) (Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Mark Potter)

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