The world is no longer Cadbury for Ken Hanna, who is leaving the nation’s
best-known confectionery giant. He leaves with the City certainly seeing him as
one of their Cadbury’s Favourites: the challenge for his successor lies in
keeping them sweet.
Ken Hanna’s confirmation last week that he’s stepping down from the
highly-prized role came as a surprise to many pundits on the stock-market, as
Hanna is regarded a popular figure in banking circles.
He steered the business through this year’s £1.2bn demerger from Schweppes,
and helped integrate Adams, acquired in 2002, extending Cadbury’s exposure to
Credit Suisse analyst Charlie Mills said the Cadbury-Schweppes demerger was
of particular significance. ‘It was a very unusual and complex demerger and that
was certainly more complicated than many people thought, so he’s been around
with some big corporate changes. He’s had a history of taking some fairly
radical corporate moves especially at Dalgety [now Sygen Group plc],’ he said.
Analysts also believe Hanna’s departure to be significant, arguing his role
in the Adams acquisition changed the landscape of the confectionery market.
The company’s share price fell 10p to 555.5p on news of Hanna’s resignation,
and the share price of Inchcape plc, the car retailer business where he’s
heading, rose 1.25p to 188.75p.
His departure from both CFO and executive director roles at Cadbury is effective
from April 2009 following five years with the company. He starts his
non-executive position with Inchcape in May.
What’s going to happen?
A headhunter has been appointed to search for Hanna’s successor, but whoever
takes over will find Hanna casts a long shadow.
Mills said the biggest challenge the incoming Cadbury CFO is presented with
lies operationally with a major restructure taking place. ‘There’s an extensive
restructuring program…they’ll need to deliver on targets set,’ he said.
Strategically, the incumbent will need to set the tone in a market that is
increasingly driven by large-scale consolidation activity.
Despite the global financial collapse, the confectionery industry is
relatively ‘recession-proof’, Mills said.
As for Hanna, analysts said the recent share price history of Inchcape shows
the business underperforming, which could in part be due to the withdrawal of
some products in China.
Hanna has experience of emerging markets so will need to use that to drive
the car retailer forward.
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