May 31, 2018 / 9:14 AM / 2 years ago

Unilever CEO in no rush to quit, prefers internal successor: Bernstein

FILE PHOTO: Unilever CEO Paul Polman speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Unilever’s (ULVR.L) UNc.AS outgoing veteran chief executive, Paul Polman, may stay long enough to see the company through to its 2020 targets and would prefer an internal candidate as his replacement, brokerage Bernstein said.

No date has been set for Polman’s retirement, but Sky News reported in November he was expected to step down in about 18 months, citing people close to the matter.

“We need to do a few things that we’re in the middle of now that I am probably better-placed for finishing,” Polman told Bernstein analyst Andrew Wood in an interview the brokerage hosted last week and published on Thursday.

The owner of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was working with search firm Egon Zehnder to find a possible external successor for Polman, who has been CEO since January 2009, Sky News reported at the time.

However, Polman said he would encourage the company to take an internal candidate. “We have some very good people that can follow me,” Polman told Bernstein.

Bernstein had identified possible candidates as Polman’s successor in November, including four internal candidates from 11 of his direct reports.

The internal candidates Bernstein identified were the company’s Personal Care segment president Alan Jope, Home Care president Kees Kruythoff, Foods and Refreshment division president Nitin Paranjpe and North America president Amanda Sourry.

Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Georgina Prodhan

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