By Geoff Colvin, senior editor-at-large@FortuneMagazineJune 13, 2013: 7:09 AM ET
The pressure is finally off Indra Nooyi, so you can't blame her for sounding relieved -- at least for the moment. Only 16 months ago her situation looked desperate. Several Wall Street analysts were calculating that PepsiCo, the company she runs, would be more valuable busted up into separate beverage and snack companies, a move she vehemently opposed. Activist investor Nelson Peltz, who helped force the breakup of Kraft Foods, bought a stake. Conventional wisdom held that in her six years at the helm she'd tanked the stock. It wasn't true -- its total return to shareholders matched the S&P 500 -- but the misperception (caused by several months of a flat price) fed the growing disaster scenario. The New York Post repeatedly quoted "a source close to the board" saying the directors were fed up with her. Published rumors suggested that Nooyi would resign to join the Obama administration or become president of the World Bank as "a graceful exit." (For more see "Indra Nooyi's Pepsi Challenge.") The deathwatch was on.