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Premier in a dive after turnaround chief makes shock exit [London Evening Standard]
[January 28, 2013]

Premier in a dive after turnaround chief makes shock exit [London Evening Standard]

(Evening Standard (London, England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 28--Shares in Hovis-to-Oxo maker Premier Foods crashed by more than 10 percent today after the surprise resignation of its turnaround chief executive Michael Clarke after just 18 months in the job.

Clarke, will be replaced by Gavin Darby who has been ousted from previous jobs by mobile phone giant Vodafone on two occasions.

Clarke, who was also paid a pounds sterling 1.94 million golden hello by Premier when he joined it from Kraft, is understood to have told the board he was looking at another job a few weeks ago and resigned over the weekend. He has left the board with immediate effect.

Under his short reign, Premier has sold off many of its smaller brands including Branston pickles, Hartley's jelly and Sarson's vinegar.

Clarke will be paid his pounds sterling 750,000 annual salary until June as he hands over to Darby.

He will also collect another pounds sterling 750,000 to replace his 2013 bonus from Kraft.

Premier would not disclose Darby's new pay deal today. However, he said he would "invest a significant personal sum in the shares of the company" with Premier matching any purchase he makes with free shares.

Darby left Vodafone in 2010 after a difference of opinion with chief executive Vittorio Colao.

More recently, he was chief executive of Cable & Wireless Worldwide, which was taken over by Vodafone last year. That prompted his second departure from the company.

He is believed to have collected some pounds sterling 1.2 million in the process.

Analysts said that Clarke's surprise exit raised questions over Premier's long-term outlook.

The shares today dropped 12.5p to 108p.

___ (c)2013 London Evening Standard Visit the London Evening Standard at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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