Sara Lee CEO steps down for health reasons

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Sara Lee Corp. said Monday that it's searching for a new leader after its chairman and CEO stepped down for health reasons.

The food and beverage maker said that Brenda Barnes, who has been on medical leave since suffering a stroke in May, will end her six-year stint as leader of the company.

"We fully support Brenda's decision to step down as chairman and CEO so she can devote all of her time and energy toward improving her health," said James Crown, an independent director who has served as chairman of the board since Barnes took a leave of absence on May 14.

Marcel Smits, formerly the chief financial officer, will continue to serve as interim CEO until Sara Lee (SLE, Fortune 500) decides on a permanent replacement, the company said.

Sara Lee announced that is has begun the search for a new CEO this week. The company said it's considering both in-house candidates as well as people outside Sara Lee.

Barnes ranks number 10 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list. To top of page

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