French distribution giant Carrefour has asked its shareholders to increase the age cap for its CEO, currently 70, to 75. The move however does not imply that current CEO Georges Plassat will stay.
Will position be split into two?
Carrefour wants to increase the age limitation for the CEO position from 70 to 75, asking permission at its upcoming shareholders meeting mid-June. According to press agency Reuters, the goal is to give several of its current board members an opportunity to become chairman, once the company splits the current position of ‘PDG’ into a separate chairman and CEO.
Carrefour’s board currently has seventeen members and a number of them have seen their a number of summers: Abilio Diniz is 80 years old, Amaury de Cèze 71, Philippe Houzé and Bertrand de Montesquiou are 69 and Bernard Arnault, Georges Ralli and René Brillet are 68. Carrefour refused to comment on the information.
Who will succeed Georges Plassat?
The age cap increase is not a sign Georges Plassat will stay in power or even wants to do so. His mandate ends in 2018, but he has always indicated he wanted to have his successor by his side a year earlier, to help him or her the details of the job. Reuters believes his successor could be revealed during that same shareholders meeting.
Plassat has always said he preferred an internal candidate in order to avoid a “breach with the current strategy”, but that is contrary to what the largest shareholders (the Houzé family – Galeries Lafayette; Bernard Arnault – LVMH; Brazilizan Abilio Diniz – former Grupo Pão de Açúcar) seem to prefer. Pascal Clouzard (Carrefour Spain CEO), Alain Caparros (who will soon leave German Rewe) and Hubert Joly (American Best Buy’s CEO) are apparently in line for the position.
A remarkable fact: Carrefour’s decision came about a week after major competitor did something similar, raise the CEO’s age limitation from 70 to 75. That gives current CEO Jean-Charles Naouri, whose mandate runs until 2019, another five years in charge. He has been Casino’s largest shareholder since 1992 and has been in charge since 2005.