Estee Lauder heir paves way for new boss from P&G

WASHINGTON, Nov 9, 2007 (AFP) - US beauty products group Estee Lauder said Friday, November 9th it has recruited a Procter & Gamble executive for top positions that put him in line to succeed William Lauder as chief executive.

Fabrizio Freda, a 23-year veteran of P&G, a consumer goods and food group, was named president and chief operating officer of The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., effective March 3.

With the move, chief executive William Lauder "has created a succession plan that anticipates Freda becoming chief executive officer within 24 months," the company said in a statement.

Freda was until recently president of the Global Snacks division at the Procter & Gamble Company.

The nomination of the top-level P&G executive fueled speculation that Estee Lauder could be a takeover target for the global maker of products such as laundry detergents, prescription drugs and disposable diapers.

P&G has expressed interest in developing a niche in the lucrative luxury cosmetics sector.

Shares in Estee Lauder rallied on the appointment news, up 8.35 percent at 44.51 percent at 1640 GMT and bucking a sharply lower market.

William Lauder, the grandson of the company's founder Estee Lauder, has headed the family business since 2004 under the watchful eye of his father, Leonard Lauder, 74, who chairs the board of directors.

The Lauder family owns a 46 percent stake in the company founded in 1946 by Estee Lauder, who died three years ago, and a large majority of the voting rights.

Quoted in Friday's edition of The Wall Street Journal, William Lauder insisted the Lauder family wants to maintain ownership of the company.

"Our family is committed to this company and we think the interests of this company are best-served by being an independent company focused on the prestige beauty business," he told the newspaper.

The company's brands include Estee Lauder, Aramis, Tom Ford Beauty, Clinique, Prescriptives and Origins.

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