Rakesh Kapoor, the boss of the firm behind brands from Dettol to Durex and one of the UK’s highest-paid chief executives, is to leave the company after a troubled couple of years blighted by a cyber-attack, criticism over his pay and factory disruption.
The consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser said Kapoor – who has been paid a total of £86m since 2011 and is expected to top £100m before he steps down – is to retire as chief executive this year. He has worked for the firm for 32 years, including eight in the top job.
Kapoor’s pay for 2018 has yet to be revealed and his 2019 earnings will not be made public until 2020. However, he was paid £25m, £15m and £12.5m in the last three years.
The share price, which stood at about £32 at the time of his appointment, rose to a high of £80 in July 2017 but has since fallen back to £60.
Kapoor had been due to receive £23.7m in 2017 but this was cut to £12.5m after a sharp fall in the share price and following talks with Reckitt Benckiser shareholders, some of whom had expressed concern at the scale of the chief executive’s pay.
Reckitt has a track record as a top payer. Kapoor’s predecessor, Bart Becht, came under fire in 2010 over a pay packet worth more than £90m in a single year.
Kapoor’s departure follows a string of problems at the company, which also makes brands including Nurofen, Veet and Vanish.
In 2016, Reckitt paid £300m to the relatives of people who had suffered illness and fatal lung injuries linked to humidifier sterilisers sold by the firm in South Korea.
The company was hit by a cyber-attack in 2017 and sales suffered last year after manufacturing problems at a Dutch factory that makes baby formula.
Russ Mould, an investment director at AJ Bell, said: “News that Rakesh Kapoor is to stand down as chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser shouldn’t come as a surprise, given how the business has floundered over the past year or two.
“Kapoor’s early days as chief executive were successful, with shareholders rewarded with a decent uptick in the share price. But the shares have had a much harder time since summer 2017.”
Chris Sinclair, the chair of Reckitt Benckiser, said a search was under way for a new chief executive, with internal and external candidates to be considered.
He said: “Under Rakesh’s leadership, RB has been transformed from a household cleaning business to a world leader in consumer health and hygiene. Rakesh has been both the visionary and the architect behind this strategic portfolio transformation since the mid-2000s.”
Kapoor said it was the right time for new leaders to see the company through “the next phase of outperformance”.