It was just earlier this year that Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report reshuffled its management ranks to give a top lieutenant more responsibility, only to announce last week that long-time CEO Howard Schultz would be stepping down from the day to day grind and moving into the executive chairman role.
Now, Cereal giant General Mills (GIS) - Get Report may have just sent a signal that the handing off of the CEO baton from Ken Powell -- who has led the company since September 2007 -- is looming as well. General Mills today announced a new structure that will organize it into four segments: North America Retail, Europe and Australia, Asia and Latin America, and Convenience Stores and Foodservice. Each segment will have its own leader. Each will report directly to Jeff Harmening, General Mills' current president and COO. Global operations functions such as innovation, technology and quality and supply chain will continue to report to Harmening.
Long rumored to be Powell's successor, Harmening, who like Powell has spent his entire career at General Mills, was promoted to his current role in July. Before that, he was COO of the company's U.S. retail business, overseeing areas such as baking, cereal, snacks and yogurts.
As part of the new structure, Powell will arguably take on a role that more closely resembles an executive chairman. His direct reports will include finance, legal, human resources, and external relations. Harmening will continue to report to Powell.
A General Mills spokeswoman said in an email that today's news doesn't change Powell's role as chairman and CEO.
Shares of General Mills rose slightly to $61.01 in late morning trading.