Tyson Names New Chicken Boss CEO In Latest C-Suite Shakeup

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(Bloomberg) – A revolving door has reopened at America’s largest meat company. Tyson Foods Inc. appointed Donnie King as its CEO to replace Dean Banks. King becomes Tyson’s fifth CEO in years.

Banks, who has been in the top job for eight months, is leaving for “personal reasons,” the Springdale, Arkansas-based company said Wednesday. King, the last of whom was the chief operating officer and president of the poultry industry, immediately becomes CEO.

The dramatic change comes at a turning point for the meat producer. Tyson is making better profits than ever from selling beef and adding new plant-based burgers and sausages. However, the meat company is also struggling with a shortage of workers at its meat processing plants, and chick hatching problems make it difficult to work.

Tyson shares remained largely unchanged after dropping 0.5% in early New York trading.

King, 59, first joined Tyson in 1982 and took over the poultry business for a leading U.S. chicken producer, then left in 2017. He returned to the company last September, sparking rumors that he was the future CEO.

Banks took over as CEO in October as Tyson was recovering from the coronavirus outbreak that forced the company to close several factories when workers fell ill. Banks previously led the project and was part of the leadership team at Google X and was seen as an asset as Tyson installed more automation and artificial intelligence in his businesses.

“After deep personal reflection and discussions with my family, the board of directors and my colleagues, I believe that resigning and focusing on your family is the right decision at this time,” Banks said in a statement.

Banks replaced Noel White as CEO in October. White, now vice chairman of Tyson and overseeing the company through the pandemic disruptions, took over in 2018 following the departure of Tom Hayes, who had been in the position for less than two years.

Tyson’s strategic and operational priorities should remain the same under King, and the results will continue to improve, says analyst Stephens Inc. Ben Bienven.

“While we are surprised by this move, we think Donnie King is well suited for the role given his experience and expertise in the industry,” he said of Tyson.

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