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Colgate's top executive says Cook will soon be CEO

By Staff
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CHICAGO, Feb 24 (Reuters) Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s longtime chairman and chief executive, Reuben Mark, on Friday said his successor as CEO would be President and Chief Operating Officer Ian Cook, as many had expected.

Mark, who has run the consumer products company for two decades, said that Cook is currently on vacation with his family, and would become CEO in 2007. Mark made the announcement during his presentation to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York industry conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mark said that he would remain chairman for a time, and did not say when he would officially retire.

He also said that Colgate is on track to meet financial forecasts.

Colgate, which makes products including its well-known toothpaste and Palmolive dish soap, elected Cook to the president role in July 2005. At that time, he was 53 years old.

Cook has served in various roles since he joined Colgate in 1976, including executive vice president responsible for Colgate North America and Europe.

NO SURPRISE Many had seen Cook's promotion to the president role as a signal that Cook could step in as CEO when Mark decides to retire. Mark joined Colgate in 1963, became chief executive in 1984 and added the role of chairman in 1986. He was 66 years old as of Colgate's last proxy statement, which was filed in March 2005.

New York-based Colgate unveiled a restructuring plan in late 2004 that included cutting 12 percent of its work force and closing one-third of its factories. The company has also been raising prices on some products to help offset higher costs for raw materials such as resins.

Colgate said in January that it expects to post double-digit earnings per share growth on a percentage basis in 2006, starting in the first quarter, excluding restructuring charges and accounting changes for stock-based compensation.

The forecast was slightly ahead of Wall Street estimates.

Mark on Friday outlined Colgate's goals for 2010, which include reaching gross profit margin of 60 percent. Gross profit margin was 56 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, excluding restructuring charges.

Shares of Colgate, whose other products include Irish Spring soap and Hill's Science Diet pet food, were up 19 cents at .84 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

REUTERS SBJ HS2046

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