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CHICAGO -- Two weeks after Mars Inc. took the reins of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Mars named a Wrigley veteran to run the Chicago-based confectionery company.
Earlier this week, Wrigley named Dushan "Duke" Petrovich president effective immediately, replacing William Perez, president and chief executive officer. Perez, who will get paid more than $25 million in severance, will serve in an advisory capacity through the end of the year, the company said.
In 2006, Perez became the first person outside the Wrigley family to be president and CEO of the 116-year-old company. Perez was president and CEO of Nike Inc. from 2004 to 2006, when conflicts between him and company founder Phil Knight forced him out, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Before that, he spent 34 years with Racine, Wis.-based S.C. Johnson, serving as president and chief executive for eight years.
Petrovich is a Chicago native who began his career in the Wrigley finance department 30 years ago and served as vice president, corporate controller and vice president, corporate treasurer. His most recent role was senior vice president and chief administrative officer. As president, Petrovich will continue to work closely with Wrigley Chairman Bill Wrigley Jr. Both will report to Mars President and CEO Paul Michaels.
Jim Burns, president of J.W. Burns & Co. investment counsel of Syracuse, N.Y., told the newspaper Perez did an admirable job focusing on improving Wrigley's growth, profit margins and business operations, efforts Mars already has a team to do.
"Perez did his job in a publicly held company," Burns told the Sun-Times. "Now that the company is private, it doesn't need that high-profile person there. "The [Mars] people wanted a longtime Wrigley insider."
In other Wrigley news, Life Savers WintOGreen Mints are celebrating its 90th birthday by joining forces with actress Ellen Albertini Dow, best known for her role as the rapping granny in "The Wedding Singer," who also turns 90 this year.
The mints and Dow will host a tribute at www.sparking90.com, where visitors can view a custom video, enter to win a year's supply of America's Favorite Mints and learn about the candy's famous 'spark in the dark' legacy.