DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (AP) — Sara Lee Corp., preparing to split into two companies, is shaking up its management ranks.
The company said Monday that C.J. Fraleigh, CEO of its North American division, has resigned. The company has started searching for his successor.
Chairman Jan Bennink said Fraleigh had "played an important role" and improved his unit's profitability and operations, but "we now believe that a different approach is needed."
Sara Lee plans to split into two public companies in the first half of next year. The North American unit that Fraleigh led will be one company, and will include brands such as Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm.
The international beverage business will be another company, and will include brands such as Pickwick and Maison du Café.
The company hasn't settled on names for the two new companies, and is currently referring to them as "MeatCo" and "CoffeeCo." It has named the CEO of a Mexican beer company, Michiel Herkemij, to lead the beverage company and the chief financial officer of a water filter company, Maria Henry, to be CFO of the North American unit.
Until Fraleigh's successor is named, Sara Lee CEO Marcel Smits will oversee the North American unit. Smits became CEO in January, about seven months after taking the job on an interim basis after the previous CEO suffered a stroke.
Sara Lee's upcoming split is the latest step in a strategy of slimming down. The company, based in Illinois, has been shrinking over the past decade, selling units like its household and body care and shoe care businesses to focus on food and beverages.
Shares were down mid-day about 1.5 percent, or 26 cents, to $17.01, on a down day for the market.