PepsiCo's Compton Leaving; Abdalla Named President
John Compton, a PepsiCo veteran who became president in March, is leaving to become CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J, and PepsiCo has chosen Zein Abdalla, currently head of European operations, to succeed him.
Abdalla joined PepsiCo in 1995. The European division's revenue has doubled to $14 billion since he became its head in 2008. However, the Wall Street Journal noted that he lacks U.S. experience.
Compton worked for the Frito-Lay snacks group for more than 20 years, and became head of the Americas food group in 2007. In a statement, he noted that running Pilot Flying J, one of America's largest private companies, is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, which will also enable he and his family to return to their home state of Tennessee.
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said that Compton had made "countless positive contributions" to the company, and will be missed.
The development narrows the field of possible eventual successors to Nooyi. Nooyi, 56, has made it clear that she has no immediate plans to give up the CEO post. However, she has been under increasing pressure from investors, including some pressure to separate the better-performing snacks business from the beverages business.
PepsiCo, which has warned that its 2012 profits will be down 5%, in February announced that it will cut 8,700 jobs and use savings to significantly up its marketing, including boosting this year's budget by as much as $600 million.