PURCHASE, NY -- John Compton is no longer PepsiCo Inc.'s president. He left the beverage and snack giant to become chief executive of Pilot Flying J Oil Corp., an operator of truck stops. Zein Abdalla, president of PepsiCo Europe, has assumed the role of president at PepsiCo.
Compton's departure came as a surprise, as he was just named president in March, and it shortens the list of likely candidates in line to become PepsiCo's next chief executive. Compton joined PepsiCo three decades ago as a 21-year-old at its Pulaski, TN, Frito-Lay facility, and said his career shift to Pilot Flying J gives him the chance to return to Tennessee from PepsiCo's Purchase, NY, headquarters.
Wall Street analysts saw him as the likely successor to Indra Nooyi, who has led the company as chief executive for five years; she was blamed last year for a stagnant stock price and a North American drink business that lagged behind Coca-Cola's. Analysts now say Abdalla's international experience makes him the likely leading chief executive candidate.
During Abdalla's tenure with PepsiCo since 1995, the European division's revenue grew to $14 billion from $7 billion.
Enderson Guimaraes will take up Abdalla's post in Europe, based in Geneva. He joined PepsiCo in 2011 and had been president of the global nutrition group.