Heinz CEO elected to UPS board

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UPS announced that its board of directors elected William R. Johnson — chairman, president and chief executive officer of the H.J. Heinz Co. — as a new independent director of the company. Johnson, 60, will join the board immediately and then stand for regular election to a one-year term at the UPS annual shareowner’s meeting on May 7. Shareowners of record on March 9 will be eligible to vote on the slate of directors presented at the meeting.

In announcing Johnson’s nomination, the board also disclosed it had been advised by Ben Verwaayen, a UPS director since March 2005, that he “reluctantly” would not stand for re-election when his term expires in May. Verwaayen, a Dutch national, was named CEO of Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent last fall and says he has been intensely focused on the demands of his new job. Previously, he had served as the chief executive of the BT Group. The UPS board is expected to remain at its current size of 10 members once Verwaayen steps down.

“Ben brought a truly global perspective and keen sense of business acumen to our board,” says Scott Davis, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based UPS. “We wish him the best in his new position, but he certainly will be missed. We are pleased to add an executive of such experience and skill as Bill Johnson to our board. Like UPS, H.J. Heinz is a global company with a renowned brand and long track record of success. Bill Johnson is a seasoned executive with valuable international experience.”

Johnson joined Heinz in 1982 as general manager of new businesses for Heinz USA, then rose through a series of positions of increasing responsibility before being named senior vice president and a member of the board of directors in 1993. His responsibilities included Heinz operations in the Asia/Pacific area, including Australia, New Zealand, China, Thailand and South Korea.

Johnson became president and chief operating officer of Heinz in June 1996 and assumed the position of president and CEO in April 1998; he was named chairman, president and CEO in September 2000. Johnson also serves on the board of directors of Emerson and is a member of the board of directors of the Grocery Manufacturers of America.