PepsiCo Names Narasimhan a Top Deputy as Chief Builds Ranks

PepsiCo Inc. has promoted Laxman Narasimhan to the newly created position of chief commercial officer, giving Chief Executive Officer Ramon Laguarta a top deputy as he tries to ignite faster growth at the beverage and snack giant.

Narasimhan, who joined PepsiCo in 2012 from McKinsey & Co. and has been running the consumer company’s operations in Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, becomes one of its top-ranking executives. The 51-year-old will oversee key operations including marketing, research and development, strategy and e-commerce at a time when the company grapples with changing tastes and economic uncertainty that have created challenges for consumer companies.

“Laxman is the ideal executive to take on this important new role,” Laguarta said in a statement. “He will be instrumental as we sharpen our integrated long-term growth strategy.”

Laguarta, 55, is starting to put his stamp on PepsiCo after taking over from former CEO Indra Nooyi in October. The company recently said profit will fall this year as it spends to bring its well-know global brands to new markets.

It’s also been boosting marketing spending to sustain sales growth in North America and adding trucks and drivers to boost distribution of its Frito-Lay snacks. It’s slashing costs, reducing headcount and returning about $8 billion to investors this year through buybacks and dividends.

The company also announced that Rene Lammers is taking over as chief science officer as Mehmood Khan retires from PepsiCo this month. Khan will become chief executive officer of Life Biosciences Inc., a startup with more than $75 million in venture funding aiming to help people live longer, healthier lives, according to the new biotechnology company.

PepsiCo had gained 5.2 percent this year through Friday’s close, lagging the 12 percent gain for the S&P 500.

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