Appoints Bestfoods Chief John Rice to Role

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Packaged-goods giant Unilever is moving most of its U.S. headquarters, now in Manhattan, to the site of the Englewood Cliffs, N.J., headquarters of Unilever Bestfoods as John W. Rice, head of the food and beverage unit, takes over as president-CEO of Unilever U.S.

Mr. Rice, currently president-CEO of Unilever Bestfoods, succeeded Charles Strauss as president of Unilever U.S. today and will fill both roles. Mr. Strauss retired as president of Unilever Home and Personal Care in March and remained as head of the U.S. unit through today.

Mr. Rice's appointment to the top U.S. spot was widely expected following the announcement of Mr. Strauss' retirement last year. At Unilever Home and Personal Care, Mr. Strauss was succeeded by Harish Manwani, formerly president-CEO of Unilever Home and Personal Care in Latin America.

Unilever United States, known as "UNUS" within the company, handles a variety of shared services for the otherwise independently managed Unilever Bestfoods and Unilever Home and Personal Care, including media buying, human resources, finance and legal and government affairs.

Most of the UNUS staff is scheduled to move in coming months from the Manhattan site, in Lever House, to a "largely underutilized" building on the campus of the Unilever Bestfoods headquarters, a spokeswoman said. But she said Unilever will "maintain a presence" in the architecturally significant 400 Park Ave. location, built in 1951 as U.S. headquarters of Lever Brothers.

Mr. Rice, 52, has previously been group president of Unilever Bestfoods Latin America, president-CEO of Unilever's Lipton USA, chief operating officer of Lever Brothers Co. and president of the board of directors of the Unilever United States Foundation. He joined Unilever in 1986. He began his career in advertising, working for J. Walter Thompson, New York, now part of WPP Group.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Mr. Rice was filling a managerial void created by Mr. Strauss' resignation. In fact, Mr. Strauss, who left his position as president-CEO of Unilever HPC in March, continued in the U.S. position through today.

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