Was Coty CEO appointment terminated because the job is too big?

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Was Coty CEO appointment terminated because the job is too big?

Related tags Reckitt benckiser Elio leoni sceti

Speculation has been rampant since yesterday’s announcement that newly appointed Coty CEO Elio Leoni Sceti will now no longer take up the position next month.

Not only did an SEC filing reveal that Sceti had received a $1.8m severance payment for not taking up the position, but a note from a financial analyst speculates that, with the possibility of the company acquiring a significant slice of the P&G business, the role may be been too big for him to take on.

Coty has been widely rumored to be in late stage talks to buy a number of the P&G beauty and fragrance brands that is estimated to have a value of $12bn, an acquisition that would grow and diversify the Coty business significantly.

Analyst questions if the job got too big for Sceti

B. Riley analyst Linda Bolton circulated a note stating her belief that the reason behind the Sceti announcement may reflect the magnitude of the pending P&G deal and the fact that he might not have the right experience to take on a business in the midst of such a significant expansion.

“With three major businesses being acquired, Coty and JAB Holdings [one of Coty’s major stockholders] decided that Sceti was not up to the task of integrating such a big deal and at the same time reigniting organic sales growth at the company,”​ Weiser’s note stated.

The SEC filing that accompanied the announcement about Sceti’s latest decision, stated that the ‘dissolution agreement’ would pay Sceti $1.75 million in severance pay, and a further payment of $55,000 to buy back the preferred stock he had been given.

Sceti has two previous CEO appointments

Sceti, an Italian national, has built up specific experience and skills in the areas of executing corporate strategies, building global brands and achieving strong financial results.

As well as Iglo, the European frozen foods giant, he has also served as the CEO of EMI Music, underlining a variety of types of businesses all serving the consumer sector, while also putting in time at senior leadership roles in both Reckitt Benckiser (RB) and P&G, exposing him to the personal care field.

During his time at Iglo, Sceti has overseen a period of extensive brand rebuilding and recovery at the business, which has focused on the core Iglo and Birds Eye brands.

Coty to keep interim CEO manning the fort

Coty has said that in the meantime, Bart Becht will remain as the company’s interim CEO, as well as maintaining his role as chairman of the board.

Company executives will now have to recommence the recruitment process for a new CEO, who will primarily be responsible for the growth of the company’s global brand portfolio, which covers the fragrance, color cosmetics, skin and body care categories in 130 countries.

“After further discussion, the Coty Board of Directors determined that leadership continuity is critical in ensuring the continued success of Coty’s strategy implementation,” ​said Peter Harf, director and chairman of the remuneration and nomination committee at Coty.

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