- President of Walt Disney International Brings Management and Creative
Talents to Weight Loss and Nutrition Leader -
LOS ANGELES, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Herbalife International Inc. today announced the appointment of Michael O. Johnson as chief executive officer. Johnson spent 17 years with the Walt Disney Corporation and brings to Herbalife a demonstrated track record of success as a proven leader and manager, including significant achievements in business building, global
operations, sales leadership, marketing, and product innovation. Mr. Johnson most recently served as president of Walt Disney International, a position he had held since 2000, succeeding current Disney President Bob Iger.
Herbalife is a 23 year-old company that is a significant global player in the weight loss and nutrition industry, offering science-based weight loss, nutritional supplements and personal care products to millions of customers around the world. The Company maintains a Scientific and Medical Advisory Board comprised of renowned scientists, physicians and nutritionists from
prestigious universities around the world to ensure that its products are incorporating the state-of-the-art in scientific research. As a further part of the Company's commitment to scientific research, Herbalife recently established the Mark Hughes Cellular and Molecular Lab at the University of California (UCLA).
During his career at Disney, Johnson engineered the expansion of the company's worldwide video presence from 34 markets in 1986 to more than 80 markets today, and the creation of the Disney subsidiaries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Disney quickly became the number one home entertainment distribution organization under Johnson's helm, and has
maintained that position for more than 15 years. From 1986 he took control of a licensee operation and created subsidiaries worldwide, dramatically growing the unit to produce in excess of $1 billion in revenue.
Johnson also devised and launched "Disney I", a subscription entertainment service with NTT DoCoMo in Japan that serves in excess of three million subscribers. In one of the most creative and lucrative deals done by Disney, Johnson spearheaded the company's acquisition of acclaimed director/animator Hayao Miyazaki's film library for worldwide video, theatrical and television
distribution, capitalizing on the tremendous box-office success these films have enjoyed in Japan. Hayao Miyazaki has created the number one and two biggest box-office hits in Japan, "Princess Mononoke" and this year's Academy Award winning animation film, "Spirited Away."
In addition to his leadership in the consumer products and entertainment industries, Mr. Johnson also brings diverse business-to-business and consumer lifestyle marketing experience gained while previously serving as publisher of Audio Times magazine and directing regional sales efforts for Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company for three of its television channels including MTV, Nickelodeon and The Movie Channel.
"I am very excited to take the helm of Herbalife International," stated Mr. Johnson. "Herbalife is a well-established organization with terrific products and a powerful world-class consultative sales network comprised of more than one million distributors. In addition, the company has strong market positions in weight loss and nutrition, operates on a global scale with close to two billion dollars in retail sales spread roughly evenly between Asia, North America and Europe, with healthy and improving margins. Company founder Mark Hughes established a strong and lasting legacy of focusing on helping people change their lives through weight loss and wellness. Twenty- three years later, weight loss and nutrition continue to be two of the larger, more relevant and dynamic segments of the consumer products world today. Herbalife has only begun to scratch the surface of its potential. I am looking forward to the challenge of leading Herbalife to that next level of growth."
Mr. Johnson is a fitness enthusiast who has been participating in triathlons for ten years. He established the Entertainment Industry Challenge, a physical endurance competition combining swimming, bicycling and running that takes place in conjunction with the Malibu Triathlon, to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "My personal enthusiasm for fitness and wellness gives me a special attraction to Herbalife's mission."
Peter Castleman, of Whitney and Company, and Chairman of the Herbalife Board of Directors, stated, "Michael's outstanding track record in building strong businesses within Disney, particularly internationally, and in sales leadership, marketing and product innovation make him the ideal choice to lead Herbalife. We wanted someone who has great integrity and character, is an excellent communicator, and who has very strong enthusiasm for Herbalife's business. We found that in Michael Johnson in spades. His long-term 17 year tenure with one company, through both good times and challenging times, demonstrates the kind of approach and enduring relationship that Herbalife looks forward to enjoying with Michael."
Jesse Rogers, of Golden Gate Capital, and member of the Herbalife Board, observed, "Michael is a proven winner. He has been highly successful at a great company that has a history of attracting and developing outstanding talent. He is extremely entrepreneurial, a great natural leader, deeply experienced working across cultures and geographic boundaries, and he knows
how to get results. He has a history of bringing powerful innovations to the businesses in which he works -- introducing revenue sharing to video distribution, and his success in Japan with "Disney I" and Miyazaki being two notable examples."
"I'm extremely pleased to welcome Michael Johnson to the Herbalife family," said Leslie Stanford, one of the company's long time leading distributors, an investor in the privately held company, and a member of Herbalife's Board of Directors. "Michael's strong leadership skills and wealth of experience successfully growing global businesses perfectly
complement Herbalife's needs. His entrepreneurial spirit and personal passion for wellness is an ideal match with the legacy of this company and will allow him to work well with distributors. I am confident he will lead us to new levels of success and further strengthen Herbalife's position as one of the world's leading weight management and nutrition companies."
Johnson further commented "Last year Whitney and Golden Gate, together with management and the distributors, acquired the company in a going private transaction. As a result, the company has owners with the capital, commitment and long investment horizon to invest in and support the company's growth. The fact that the distributors have an investment in the company, and board
representation, creates a powerful alignment of interests. Herbalife is at a point in its history where it can take a major step forward -- all the ingredients are in place for that to happen. It reminds of me of where Disney was when I joined in 1987. My job is to provide the leadership to make that a reality."
Heidrick and Struggles worked with the Herbalife Board in recruiting Mr. Johnson to the company.
About Herbalife International
Founded in 1980 as a California limited partnership, Herbalife has become one of the largest weight management and nutritional supplement firms in the world. The Company offers a wide range of weight management products, nutritional supplements and personal care products intended to support weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. As of December 31, 2002, the Company conducted
business in 56 countries in the Asia/Pacific Rim, Europe and the Americas. The Company's products are marketed primarily through a network marketing system comprising approximately one million distributors. In 2002, the Company had gross revenues of $1.8 billion.