By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- Reckitt Benckiser (LON: RKT ) stock slumped in early trade in London on Thursday after the group said its chief executive Laxman Narasimhan is to step down for personal reasons.
Narasimhan, who took over in 2019 as CEO of the consumer group that owns brands such as Lysol and Nurofen, will stay until the end of September when he will relocate back to the U.S. with his family.
He will be replaced by Nicandro Durante, currently, Reckitt's senior independent non-executive director, who was formerly chief executive of British American Tobacco (LON: BATS ).
Reckitt Benckiser shares fell 4.4% to their lowest in over a month in response, underperforming the FTSE 100 , which was down by 1.0%.
Narasimhan had enjoyed a good relationship with investment analysts despite failing to have a significant impact on the company's stock price in a period dominated by wild swings in consumer spending patterns as a result of the pandemic.
An early surge, thanks to strong demand for its cleaning products - supported by a notorious endorsement from then-U.S. President Donald Trump - reversed quickly as soon as consumers were able to spend money on other things. The stock still trades at a 20% discount to its peers, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley.
However, analysts had been encouraged by the group's recent performance, which they saw as the fruit of Narasimhan's turnaround plans.
His departure will be a "cause for concern," the Jefferies analysts wrote.
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