Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi to step aside after 12 years

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NEWYORK, United States of America

PepsiCo Inc.’s longtime leader Indra Nooyi will step aside as chief executive, handing the future of the company to one of her lieutenants at a time when the soda and snacks markets are being roiled by shifting consumer tastes.

Nooyi, 62 years old, steered the maker of Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Doritos chips for a dozen years through the changing landscape, defeating an activist investor’s attempt to break up the company.

Nooyi pushed PepsiCo PEP, +0.65% beyond its cola roots, expanding into hummus, kombucha and other healthier products with mixed results. PepsiCo’s revenue increased 81% during her tenure to $63.5 billion last year, but more recently executives have pledged to ramp up advertising as its core soda brands lost market share.

She will leave the CEO role on October 3 and the role of chairman early in 2019. Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year PepsiCo veteran who was promoted to president last year, will take over as CEO, the company said. When Mr. Laguarta was elevated to the Number 2 role last September, Ms. Nooyi said she intended to remain CEO “for the foreseeable future.”

Nooyi’s exit is the latest in a series of high-profile CEO departures in the food and beverage industry, as big brands lose shelf space to smaller, trendier entrants and established players scramble for growth.

Rival Coca-Cola Co. KO, -0.15% and Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc. MDLZ, +1.39% switched leaders last year while Campbell Soup Co. changed its CEO earlier this year. Still, Nooyi’s tenure was twice as long as the average S&P 500 CEO’s tenure, which was five years at the end of 2017, according to Equilar.