Herbalife CEO to step down next year, COO to take over

(Reuters) - Herbalife Ltd HLF.N Chief Executive Michael Johnson will step down next year, capping a tumultuous 13-year tenure that was marked by a bitter fight with activist investor William Ackman.

An Herbalife logo is shown on a poster at a clinic in the Mission District in San Francisco, California April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

Johnson will step down next June and will take up the role of executive chairman. He will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Richard Goudis.

Goudis took over as COO in 2010, following a five-year stint as chief financial officer.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who disclosed a 20.78 percent stake in the company in August, said he fully supported the board’s choice of Goudis as the next CEO.

The dietary supplements maker’s shares were down 1.7 percent in after-market trading on Tuesday after the company also reported a 6.3 percent drop in third-quarter net income.

Ackman and Icahn have opposing bets on Los Angeles-based Herbalife. Ackman for years has accused Herbalife of running a pyramid scheme and bet that the stock would fall to zero.

Icahn famously called Ackman a “liar” and a “crybaby” in a CNBC interview in 2013. They have since made up.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission opened a probe into Herbalife in 2014 following Ackman’s allegations.

The company, in July, agreed to pay $200 million and change the way it does business to avoid being labeled a pyramid scheme by regulators.

Herbalife’s net income fell to $87.7 million, or $1.01 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $93.6 million, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company’s earnings were $1.21 per share, topping the average analyst estimate of $1.09, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 1.7 percent to $1.12 billion.

The company, however, raised its full-year forecast for adjusted profit to a range of $4.65-$4.85 per share from $4.50-$4.80.

Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty