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Avon Products has appointed Sheri McCoy, a Johnson & Johnson executive, as its new chief executive as it continues to fend off an unsolicited takeover approach from Coty.
Ms McCoy’s appointment is likely to complicate the next moves by Coty, a privately owned fragrance group. It is planning to start wooing Avon investors to put pressure on the board, which quickly rejected Coty’s bid last week.
Avon has been searching for a new chief executive since Andrea Jung, who is staying on as its chairman, said she was ready to step down from the role in December, contributing to a sense that the company was “rudderless”, as one analyst put it.
Since January 2011 Ms McCoy has been vice-chairman at Johnson & Johnson with responsibility for its pharmaceutical and consumer businesses, which make up more than 60 per cent of its $65bn annual revenue, Avon said. She was previously head of its pharmaceuticals business for two years.
Bart Becht, the Coty chairman who is leading the bid, said last week that it “wouldn’t be helpful” for Avon to appoint a new chief executive.
“It’s not productive to do that when you’re smack in the middle of exploring alternative options and I’m not sure they would do that,” he told the Financial Times. “Would we fundamentally change our approach? No, unlikely. But it just wouldn’t be helpful.”
Fred Hassan, lead director of Avon’s board, said: “Sheri has a unique combination of strategic and finely-honed operational skills, a significant turnround record, global experience and people leadership.
“[We] have great confidence that under Sheri’s leadership Avon can successfully execute against our strong long-term prospects.”