P&G's Arnold steps down as president - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

P&G's Arnold steps down as president

Susan Arnold (Courtesy Procter and Gamble) Susan Arnold (Courtesy Procter and Gamble)

CINCINNATI (AP) - The Procter & Gamble Co. said Susan E. Arnold, who had been widely considered a potential CEO candidate, stepped down Monday as president for global business units at the world's largest consumer products maker.

Arnold, who has been P&G's highest-ranking female executive and achieved a number of firsts for a woman at the company, and Chief Operating Officer Robert A. McDonald were both promoted in 2007 in what some analysts perceived then as setting up a succession for Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley.

Monday's announcement leaves McDonald as the current front-runner to next lead the company whose products include Tide detergent, Pampers diapers and Gillette shavers.

McDonald and Arnold are both 55 and have been with the company since 1980. He's a veteran executive for the Asian emerging markets where P&G has increasingly built its businesses.

But Lafley, P&G's CEO since 2000 and now 61, has rebutted recent speculation that he is ready to retire, telling analysts in December: "The rumors of my passing are greatly exaggerated."

Arnold, who could also emerge as a candidate for a top position at another company, wasn't immediately available for comment. P&G said Arnold will retire Sept. 1 after 29 years with the company.

The announcement said it has long been her intention to step down when she turned 55 - her birthday was Sunday.

Ali Dibadj, a senior analyst for New York-based Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said he wasn't entirely surprised.

"It certainly takes away any question of whether she would become CEO," said Dibadj, who has considered McDonald the leader in the succession race.

He said that while Arnold was a key architect in the growth of P&G's beauty business, other executives have been taking on increasing roles.

"I would say the bench strength in that business is strong," said Dibadj, who helped prepare an analysis last year of P&G's managers that concluded there were more than a dozen other potential CEO candidates whose chances could improve depending on how long Lafley stays on.

Arnold will report on special assignment to Lafley until retirement. Her job won't immediately be filled, and the company said three vice chairmen who had reported to her will now report directly to Lafley, "reducing a layer of management as part of the company's ongoing simplification effort."

Arnold, whose P&G firsts included first female president and the first vice chairwoman, is frequently ranked among the most powerful women in U.S. business. She was named vice chair for P&G Beauty in 2004, then vice chair for Beauty and Health in 2006. She also serves on several boards of directors, including McDonald's Corp. and Walt Disney Co., and will continue those roles, P&G said.

Lafley credited Arnold with helping P&G's beauty business to nearly triple in size, from $7 billion in 1999 to $20 billion in sales behind such brands as Olay skin care, Pantene shampoo and Head & Shoulders shampoo. P&G shares were down 49 cents, or 1 percent, at $45.22 on Monday. They have traded in a range of $44.63 to $73.57 in the past 52 weeks.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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