Nestle SA named Ulf Mark Schneider as successor to Chief Executive Officer Paul Bulcke, a surprise move that hands the reins of the world’s biggest food company to an outsider for the first time in nearly a century. Schneider, 50, will join from health-care provider Fresenius SE, where he has been CEO since 2003, Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle said in a statement Monday after European markets closed. He will join on Sept. 1 and start as CEO on Jan. 1 after “an introductory period,” the maker of KitKat chocolate bars and Nespresso coffee said. The decision to hand the reins to Schneider, whose background is in the medical industry, supports Nestle’s goal to move beyond its roots and redefine itself as a scientifically-driven nutrition and health company. Over the past five years, as packaged-food makers have been pilloried for contributing to a growing obesity crisis, Nestle has invested heavily in its health-science subsidiary, which seeks to commercialize discoveries made by its research arm in areas like metabolic health and Alzheimer’s disease.
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