Culture clash blamed for Reckitt Benckiser finance chief Liz Doherty's surprise exit


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Reckitt Benckiser is to part company with its finance director after just two years, admitting that she did not fit into the consumer goods giant's corporate culture.

In a highly unusual statement to the Stock Exchange, the Calgon to Nurofen group's chief executive, Rakesh Kapoor, thanked Liz Doherty fulsomely for her work, but added: "However, Liz and I have agreed that Reckitt's and her way of working are not as well matched as either of us would like, and now is the right time for her to move to a new opportunity".

Ms Doherty will remain at Reckitt until March, ensuring a smooth handover to Adrian Hennah, whom Reckitt has poached from another FTSE 100 company, Smith & Nephew, to replace her.

The terms of Ms Doherty's pay-off have not been revealed, but last year she received £910,000 in salary, bonus and extras. She is on only a six-month contract.

Reckitt scaled back both its chief executive's and finance director's pay and pay-off terms when Mr Kapoor took over from Bart Becht last year, after criticism of the scale of the latter's awards.

The company said it wanted to be clear on why Ms Doherty was departing and to assure investors there were absolutely no financial problems.

Reckitt shares rose 8p to 3,580p on the news yesterday.

Martin Deboo, an analyst at Investec, said: "In our view Liz Doherty had struggled to win acceptance in the investor community and suffered from being appointed prior to chief executive Rakesh Kapoor's accession. Reckitt has a distinctive 'Marmite' culture that works for some, but not others, in our experience. Ms Doherty's predecessor, Colin Day, had a highly distinctive, hard-driving style."

Mr Deboo also welcomed Ms Doherty's successor: "Adrian Hennah is familiar to us via our coverage of Smith & Nephew. We view him as an effective, analytically driven finance director who is capable of providing an effective foil to a dynamic chief executive."

Mr Hennah has been finance director of the medical devices group S&N for the past six years and previously had the same role at Invensys. The bulk of his early career was at GlaxoSmithKline.

Smith & Nephew said it had started the search for Mr Hennah's replacement.