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Nestle Hires Wal-Mart Executive as CFO

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 06:36 PM

Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food company, named Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive Wan Ling Martello as chief financial officer to succeed Jim Singh.

Martello, who will take charge in March as Singh retires, is currently Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of global e- commerce and emerging markets, Nestle said in a statement late yesterday. She has previously held posts at Kraft Foods Inc. and Borden Foods Corp., the Vevey, Switzerland-based company said.

“She comes with a celebrated resume and has the required exposure to this business as both a supplier and a customer,” said Thomas Russo, who manages about $4 billion including Nestle shares as a partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “She’s also multilingual, which is quite attractive.”

Martello’s experience in emerging markets may help Nestle achieve its goal of expansion in those regions. The company, which made its biggest acquisition in China in July, has set the target of getting 45 percent of revenue from developing countries by 2020, compared with about a third now. Unilever generates about half its revenue from those markets.

Singh has been Nestle’s chief financial officer since 2008 and has worked at the company for 35 years. During his tenure as CFO, Nestle sold a majority stake in Alcon to Novartis AG for $28.3 billion, freeing up cash for acquisitions.

Wal-Mart Experience

The announcement came after the close of trade in Zurich. Nestle shares rose 0.4 percent, to 49.43 Swiss francs yesterday. The stock has dropped 9.7 percent this year, double the loss of the Stoxx 600 Food and Beverage Index of 28 companies.

With a market capitalization of 163.1 billion Swiss francs ($182 billion), Nestle is Europe’s second-most valuable company after Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Martello joined Wal-Mart in 2005 and previously served as head of finance and strategy for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company’s international business. Her replacement hasn’t been named, according to company spokesman Lorenzo Lopez. New leaders for the units Castro-Wright led will be in place by the end of January, Wal-Mart said.

Martello’s experience “will allow her to further enhance the Nestle model combining top-line growth with continuous margin improvement and an improved return on invested capital,” Nestle Chief Executive Officer Paul Bulcke said in the statement.

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Nestle SA, the world s biggest food company, named Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive Wan Ling Martello as chief financial officer to succeed Jim Singh.Martello, who will take charge in March as Singh retires, is currently Wal-Mart s executive vice president of global e-...
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