The Business On... Bart Becht, Chief executive, Reckitt Benckiser
Thursday 22 July 2010
Isn't he the bloke who keeps cleaning up?
In every sense. The consumer goods group Reckitt is best known for its cleaning products – everything from Harpic toilet bleach to the wonderful Cillit Bang. Its boss, Mr Becht, is best known for being the highest-paid FTSE 100 chief executive. Last year's compensation, including a share options package he cashed in, was worth £90m.
Where there's muck, there's brass, you might say?
Very droll. Reckitt's shareholders certainly think Mr Becht is worth the money. In his 10 years at the company, he has trebled its sales, presided over a series of deals and the shares have outperformed the Footsie by a factor of five.
So what's he up to now?
He's splashing out £2.5bn of Reckitt's money on SSL International, the company that owns the condom-maker Durex and the footwear business Scholl.
And what will he do with SSL?
Expect Durex and Scholl to join the 17 "power brands" on which Reckitt relies for the lion's share of its profits. Still, Mr Becht may have to think twice about one of his habits. He's famous for hanging around in shops and questioning customers about why they're buying his products – Durex purchasers might be a little taken aback by that.
It is nice to see a British company not going overseas for once.
To a point. Reckitt is listed in London, though it was formed through a merger of a British business with a Dutch company in 1999. Mr Becht himself is Dutch.
Anything else we should know?
Mr Becht believes in globalisation. He told the Harvard Business Review last year that one reason for Reckitt's success was that its top managers very rarely work in their home countries. Nor is he interested in consensus. "Conflict is good," he said in the same article.
A competitor then?
At everything – his home is on the Sunningdale golf course in Berkshire.
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