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DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. --Sara Lee Corp. today announced that CJ Fraleigh, CEO of North America, has resigned from the company to pursue other opportunities. The company has commenced a search for Fraleigh's successor, with the objective of making an appointment as soon as possible. In the interim, Sara Lee Corp. CEO Marcel Smits will also assume responsibilities for leading the North American business, and Fraleigh will be available to Smits during this transition.
"CJ played an important role in taking the North American business to this stage in its development," said Jan Bennink, executive chairman of the board of Sara Lee Corp. "We now believe that a different approach is needed to transition the North American business into a pure-play company."
Smits, who joined Sara Lee as chief financial officer in October 2009 and was appointed chief executive officer in January 2011, said, "We have a talented, experienced and highly capable North American senior team, and I look forward to working with them to drive the business forward during this transition."
In January, the company announced its intention to split into two separate publicly-held companies – "CoffeeCo" (International Coffee & Tea) and "MeatCo" (North American Meats). Last week, the company appointed Michiel Herkemij as chief executive officer of "CoffeeCo." The company remains on track to execute the spin-off in the first half of calendar 2012.