This is a puzzle. We don’t know how many companies are trying to get shareholders to approve name changes this year, but we’ve just seen two, Corn Products Intl. (CPO) and Kraft Foods Inc (KFT), in the past couple of weeks. They announced their intentions to change several months ago, but now it is crunch time.
Our question: why? Some interesting commonalities may offer some clues. CEOs at both companies are women, relatively newly-appointed to the spot. Both companies are multi-national food products companies. Kraft’s CEO is Irene B. Rosenfeld. Corn Products Intl’s CEO is Ilene S. Gordon. Both companies are in Illinois.
Both suggested names that are, in our not-at-all humble opinion, silly beyond belief. Ingredion? Mondelez? (the second e is long, as in see.) Can you tell which company is picking which new name?
Is this a female thing? Probably not. Chevron used to be ChevronTexaco after a merger, but they dropped the Texaco after a while. The petroleum industry is almost a totally male-dominated culture. Over the decades, those companies have changed their names often, as they merge and break up and merge again. ATT and other telecom companies have gone through the same thing.
KFT and CPO did announce spinoffs of parts of their companies, but that’s no excuse for a name change. Is it that newly-arrived-at-the-top women are flexing their leadership muscles in a non-threatening way, i.e. not introducing a huge change in operations or something?
If so, could we be seeing IBM (IBM), CEO Virginia M. Rometty, and PepsiCo (PEP), CEO Indra K. Nooyi, doing the same? And what about the makeup companies founded by women – are they still headed by women? Have they changed their names? Helena Rubenstein? Estee Lauder? Avon?
Stay tuned. We’ll be looking into this.
P.S. We’re voting no on the name changes. We wouldn’t have minded CornPro, for example. And why change Kraft at all? What’s wrong with it?