Birnbaum makes way for new SodaStream CEO

Daniel Birnbaum and Eyal Shohat / Photo: PR

Birnbaum will become chairman and be replaced as CEO by Eyal Shohat, the company's deputy CEO.

Today, almost a year after Pepsico acquired Israeli carbonation systems manufacturer SodaStream for $3.2 billion, CEO Daniel Birnbaum announced his resignation as CEO and will become chairman.

"Following 12 amazing years with you all, and upon completion of the first year of integration with PepsiCo, I’ve decided to step back from the day-to-day operations at SodaStream. PepsiCo’s CEO asked me to stay on as chairman, and I am passing the management baton on to deputy CEO Eyal Shohat," Birnbaum wrote today in an email sent to the company's employees.

"For me, this is the end of a long and important chapter in my life. Looking back at the past 12 years, we have accomplished so very much together. We created jobs for 3,500 families. We made the Negev prosper and became the largest employers of Bedouins in Israel. We proved that peace is possible between Israelis and Palestinians. We saved the world from billions of plastic bottles. We became the largest sparkling water brand in the world. All of this was with Israeli pride and Israel's flag engraved on 70 million products a year," Birnbaum wrote. He summed up his message of thanks by saying, "Few people can say this during their lifetime. I love you very much."

Shohat, 45, who has been deputy CEO for two years, will replace Birnbaum in September. He joined SodaStream in 2010 as chief legal officer before the company's CEO on Nasdaq, and was later appointed chief corporate development officer. Before working at SodaStream, Shohat was VP legal affairs at Frutarom.

Birnbaum has been SodaStream's CEO since 2007, after it was acquired by Fortissimo for a few million dollars. He resuscitated the company and contributed to its success until it was sold to Pepsico in late 2018 for $3.2 billion. Pepsico wanted Birnbaum to remain in the company, and paid him bonuses totaling $34 million so that he would. Before the merger, Pepsico undertook to pay him a $4 million cash bonus and a $10 million pre-tax capital bonus, which will mature over three years. It was also reported that Birnbaum would receive a pre-tax capital bonus of up to $20 million, subject to meeting performance targets. This bonus will also mature over a three-year period.

During the sale negotiations, Birnbaum insisted that Pepsico undertake to leave SodaStream's plant in Israel for at least 15 more years, and made sure that all of the plant's employees would receive a bonus. It was reported in March that Birnbaum was jumping on the cannabis bandwagon by investing NIS 2 million in cannabis technologies company Seedo, and had been appointed a director in the company.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on July 15, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Daniel Birnbaum and Eyal Shohat / Photo: PR
Daniel Birnbaum and Eyal Shohat / Photo: PR
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