Quaker Oats Co. launched a restructuring program and said a search committee has been formed to find a successor for embattled Chairman-CEO William Smithburg. It also reported a $1.3 billion operating loss for its first quarter, reflecting the pre-tax loss expected from its sale of Snapple. The company said Mr. Smithburg, its CEO for 16 years, had asked Quaker to "formalize an orderly succession plan." It said Mr. Smithburg "in the interim will continue to lead the organization and implement the company's refocusing efforts." No date for his eventual departure was specified. Included in the restructuring plan is the possible sale of unidentified "non-core" businesses, a more targeted approach to international expansion, unspecified cost reductions and a share repurchase program. The announcement specifying the sale of non-core assets appears also to be aimed at allaying continuing speculation that Quaker may consider selling its cereal business, with the most likely suitor being General Mills.
Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.