Reckitt Benckiser CEO Laxman Narasimhan steps down abruptly

London: Laxman Narasimhan, the CEO of Dettol disinfectant maker Reckitt Benckiser, has abruptly announced his resignation in order to take up a new job in the US, surprising investors after a relatively brief three-year stint at the top of the FTSE 100 company, media reports said.

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Narasimhan will step down as the CEO on September 30, despite being partway through a turnaround plan he had launched after joining in September 2019, The Guardian reported.

Shares in the Slough-based company, whose brands also include Durex condoms, Calgon detergent and Nurofen painkillers, fell by 4.5 percent on Thursday morning. It was valued at about 48 billion pound before the announcement.

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Narasimhan said: “I have been offered an opportunity to return to the United States and although it is difficult to leave, it is the right decision for me and my family.”

Narasimhan was one of the best paid chief executives in the FTSE 100. He received a total pay of 6 million pound in 2021 and 8.4 million pound in 2020, when the company benefited from increased sales of disinfectants from germ-conscious shoppers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Part of his pay included tax advice to help with his relocation from the US, The Guardian reported.

The company’s senior Independent Director and former British American Tobacco boss Nicandro Durante will step in as interim chief executive while the company scrambles to find a long-term replacement.

Narasimhan’s departure comes as consumer companies brace for an expected recession in many leading economies, including the UK, with households’ spending power diminished by soaring energy prices.

Reckitt has protected its profits in recent months by increasing prices by more than 10 percent.

As many as 17 changes have been announced in the top job for FTSE 100 firms in 2022 so far, according to a research by AJ Bell, an investment platform.

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