Sara Lee: names new chief financial officer

Downers Grove / IL. (slc) Sara Lee Corporation announced that it has named Marcel H. M. Smits executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective October 01, 2009. Smits (48) will have responsibility for the corporation´s accounting, tax, treasury, procurement and information technology (IT) departments. He will report to Brenda C. Barnes, Sara Lee Corporation´s chairman and chief executive officer.

«Marcel brings great finance leadership and international expertise and we are delighted to have him join our team», said Barnes. «He is a seasoned professional with broad experience in consumer packaged goods and retail and we expect him to quickly contribute to our finance, operations and global business strategy».

Smits comes to Sara Lee from Koninklijke KPN NV, a Dutch telecom company with 21 billion USD in sales last year. He also has held various finance positions at Maxeda, a Dutch retail group, and Unilever PLC, a global food and consumer package good company.

Smits hiring comes as Sara Lee is looking to sell its European-based household and body care division. Sara Lee announced in March it was exploring its options for the division, and CEO Barnes told analyst last week the company´s was making good progress but declined to comment further. The hiring of the Dutch-born executive signals Sara Lee´s commitment to its European-based beverage and bakery divisions, experts say.