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Nestle nabs CFO from Wal-Mart ranks

Roy Harris | Sept. 29, 2011
Swiss food giant Nestle SA's choice of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive Wan Ling Martello to become its chief financial officer signifies a plan to beef up its global e-commerce and global markets reach, which is Martello's strength.

Swiss food giant Nestle SA's choice of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive Wan Ling Martello to become its chief financial officer signifies a plan to beef up its global e-commerce and global markets reach, which is Martello's strength.

The 53-year-old Martello will take charge at Nestle in April, when Jim Singh retires, at 65. Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle said in a statement yesterday. Martello is currently Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart's executive vice president of global e-commerce and emerging markets, and previously held posts at Kraft Foods Inc. and Borden Foods Corp.

"She comes with a celebrated resume and has the required exposure to this business as both a supplier and a customer," Thomas Russo, a partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner in Lancaster, Pa., told Bloomberg News. "She's also multilingual, which is quite attractive," said Russo, who manages about $4 billion, including Nestle shares. Martello speaks Mandarin and Hokkien Chinese, and Tagalog, in addition to English.

Nestle's Asian Push

Nestle has touted its goal of achieving greater expansion in Asia. The world's largest food company, Nestle's biggest Chinese acquisition was in July. The company aims to collect 45% of its revenue from developing countries by 2020. That's up from about a third currently --- but still less than the 50% that rival Unilever brings in from Asian markets.

Specifically, Nestle has focused more on Internet sales with products such as Nespresso coffee, Special-T tea and BabyNes infant formula. The company created a website in Germany called Nestle Marktplatz this month to sell 1,500 products, including Baci Perugina and KitKat Mini chocolates, according to Bloomberg News.

Martello, who joined Wal-Mart in 2005 as CFO of its international unit, helped lead the U.S. retailer's acquisition this year of a minority stake in Yihaodian, a Chinese online supermarket operator. Her replacement hasn't been named, Lorenzo Lopez, a Wal-Mart spokesman, told Bloomberg.

Martello is a U.S. citizen of Chinese and Philippine extraction. A CPA, she has an MBA from the University of Minnesota and earned a bachelors degree from the University of the Philippines. She has vast knowledge of the finance and control area and solid experience in the food and beverage business as well as the retail segment. Her work at Kraft was from 1985 to 1995, in finance and business administration. At Borden (1995-1998) she was controller.

From 1998-2005 she was CFO with NCH Marketing Services Inc., a former subsidiary of Nielsen, and then was COO, and late president USA. At Wal-Mart, since 2005 she has been steeped in retail and e-commerce at Wal-Mart, first as senior vice president, CFO & strategy, for Wal-Mart International, and then in her EVP, COO, global ecommerce and emerging markets role.

 

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