BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. is preparing to name Bob McDonald as its new CEO effective July 1, The Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition today, but a P&G spokesman declined to comment on the report.
The Journal said current CEO A.G. Lafley, 61, would remain as a "hands on" chairman and the announcement could come as soon as tomorrow after a regularly scheduled board meeting.
The succession to Mr. McDonald, 55, now chief operating officer, long has been expected and was subject of considerable speculation and was widely expected a year ago. But the timing now would come as a surprise, arriving a year or two earlier than analysts who have recently met with Mr. Lafley anticipated.
Following last year's speculation, Mr. Lafley and Mr. McDonald last July both began a new three-year compensation cycle at their current positions in which their pay hinges largely on how the company performs through June 30, 2011.
Mr. Lafley recently has completed a round of appearances or visits with analysts and investors, projecting a hands-on approach to tacking P&G's challenges, including slowing of its business globally and loss of share to value brands in some categories, such as laundry detergent.
P&G is scheduled to present at a Deutsche Bank investor conference on Tuesday morning in Paris, but the scheduled speakers are Ed Shirley, vice chairman-global beauty and grooming, and Treasurer Teri List, not Mr. McDonald or Mr. Lafley, though the succession topic now is likely to come up.
Mr. McDonald, now chief operating officer, long has been seen as having the inside track for the CEO post, and the announcement earlier this year that Susan Arnold, president-global business units, would retire, appeared to leave him a clear path to the post.
The transition appears, if it happens, is unlikely to bring major change to P&G's direction, as Mr. Lafley and Mr. McDonald have worked closely together and been strategically aligned for nearly 30 years, when both worked in P&G's laundry business.
Since Mr. Lafley took over as CEO in 2000, Mr. McDonald has had a particularly strong upward career trajectory, rising from Japan-based president-Northeast Asia to chief operating officer in 2007.