Sara Lee Corp. announced the boards of directors for its international coffee and tea company, D.E Master Blenders 1753 and its North American meats company (currently referred to as MeatCo). Upon completion of the proposed spin-off, Christopher Begley, current director of Sara Lee Corp. and the former chairman and chief executive officer of Hospira, Inc., will serve as non-executive chairman of the board of MeatCo.

As previously announced, Jan Bennink, currently executive chairman of Sara Lee Corp., will serve as non-executive chairman of the board of D.E Master Blenders 1753, which will be spun-off by the end of June 2012. Bennink has served as executive chairman of Sara Lee Corp. since Feb. 2011.

"I am very pleased with the strength and composition of our boards, which carry both continuity and new expertise," Bennink said. "Both boards benefit from directors with deep and relevant experience, as well as a commitment to strong corporate governance and shareholder value. Chris Begley knows MeatCo well and I am confident he will be an effective chairman. I look forward to continuing my work with D.E Master Blenders 1753."

After completion of the spin-off, the MeatCo board will feature three new board members and five existing Sara Lee Corp. directors. The MeatCo board intends to add one more member in the future to bring the total number of directors to nine. The new board members are:

  • Todd Becker, 46, who has served as president and chief executive officer of Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. since 2009 and was appointed as a director of the company the same year. Prior to his current position, Becker served as chief executive officer of VBV LLC (precursor to Green Plains) from May 2007 to October 2008. Mr. Becker also worked for ten years with ConAgra Foods in various management positions including vice president of international marketing for ConAgra Trade Group and president, ConAgra Grain Canada.

  • Ellen L. Brothers, 56, who has served as the executive vice president of Mattel, Inc. and president of American Girl (a subsidiary of Mattel) since July 2000. Prior to that, Ms. Brothers was employed by Pleasant Company, the predecessor to American Girl, which was acquired by Mattel in July 1998, in various roles, most recently as senior vice president of operations. She previously served on the board of directors of Bare Escentuals Inc.

  • As previously announced, Sean M. Connolly, 46, chief executive officer, MeatCo. Sean joined Sara Lee from the Campbell Soup Company where he served as president of the $4.6 billion Campbell's North America.

    “I'm excited to welcome Todd Becker, Ellen Brothers and Sean Connolly to the MeatCo. Board of Directors," said Bennink. "Todd has more than 24 years of relevant experience in various commodity processing businesses, risk management and supply chain management. Ellen is a retail expert with great experience in brand building. Sean has great food category knowledge and has brought fresh perspectives and direction to MeatCo since joining in 4Q 2011. They will each be a true resource within the board of this new company."

In addition to Chris Begley, four current Sara Lee Corp. board members will transition to the MeatCo board. They are:

  • Virgis W. Colbert, retired executive vice president, Miller Brewing Company; director since 2006

  • Laurette T. Koellner, retired senior vice president, The Boeing Company and retired president, Boeing International; director since 2003

  • Sir Ian Prosser, retired chairman, InterContinental Hotels Group plc; director since 2004

  • Jonathan P. Ward, operating partner, Kohlberg & Co.; director since 2005

Sara Lee also announced that Kent Magill, 59, will become general counsel and corporate secretary of MeatCo after the spin-off. Magill will have responsibility for the company's legal activities as well as global business practices. He will join Sara Lee on June 4, 2012, as senior vice president, general counsel, North America Retail and Foodservice, and will lead the North American business' legal function. Magill will report to Connolly.

“Kent is a welcome addition to our team,” said Connolly. “I look forward to leveraging his broad experience and legal acumen as we continue to prepare for post-spin-off operation as an independent food company.”

Source: Sara Lee Corp.