Carlsberg names Dutchman Cees’t Hart as new chief executive

Head of dairy company FrieslandCampina replaces Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen

Cees’t Hart steered FrieslandCampina through a large merger and substantial growth in Asia, a key area for Carlsberg. Photograph: Marcel Antonisse/EPA

Cees’t Hart steered FrieslandCampina through a large merger and substantial growth in Asia, a key area for Carlsberg. Photograph: Marcel Antonisse/EPA

 

Danish brewer Carlsberg named a new chief executive yesterday and warned that problems in Russia and Ukraine would weigh on earnings again this year.

Dutchman Cees’t Hart, the head of dairy company FrieslandCampina, will become Carlsberg chief executive in June. He replaces Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen, who turns 60 this year and had told the board that he wanted to take a step back into non-executive roles.

“It’s a decision we both agreed is the right thing for Carlsberg, and also right for Jorgen to move on in his non-executive career,” said company chairman Flemming Besenbacher.

For seven years Rasmussen has fought a tough battle as sales in Russia, Carlsberg’s main market after the acquisition of the Baltika brand in 2004 had been affected by tighter regulations and more recently a sanctions-hit economy.

“Maybe his energy has been exhausted, and this change will definitely bring a breath of fresh air into the company,” analyst Morten Imsgard from Sydbank said.

Hart has run FrieslandCampina, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, for six years and steered the group through a large merger and substantial growth in Asia, a key focus area for Carlsberg as well.

Prior to that he had worked for consumer goods company Unilever for 25 years.

Carlsberg reported a 22 per cent fall in fourth-quarter operating profit, hit by 32 per cent lower sales in Eastern Europe mainly due to problems in Russia.

Operating profit before special items dropped to 1.79 billion crowns (€255 million) from 2.3 billion crowns (€309 million) a year earlier, missing analysts’ forecasts for 1.93 billion crowns (€259 million). Its shares fell 2 per cent.

The world’s fourth largest brewer expects underlying operating profit to grow by less than 10 per cent this year when its eastern European operations will again act as a brake.