Chief Who Guided Herbalife Through Troubles Will Step Down
As the chief executive of Herbalife, Michael O. Johnson has weathered a number of prominent struggles, including a bruising battle with the hedge fund manager William A. Ackman and a settlement with government regulators over the nutritional supplement maker’s business practices.
Now Mr. Johnson is paving the way to step down as chief executive.
Herbalife, the supplements maker, said on Tuesday that Mr. Johnson would step down from the chief executive role next year after 13 years. He will be succeed by Richard P. Goudis, a longtime lieutenant who is the company’s chief operating officer.
In an interview, Mr. Johnson said the transition had long been in the making and was meant to bring in new leadership.
“It was the right time,” he said. “This gives me an opportunity, as executive chairman, to look at the larger picture.”
Mr. Goudis said in an interview that he felt he had been prepared for his new role for most of his tenure at Herbalife.
“Michael and I have been working together for 12 and a half years,” he said. “A lot of the strategies that are in place today, I’ve been right alongside Michael in putting them in place.”
Still, when Mr. Johnson leaves the job on June 1 and assumes the new role of executive chairman, he will close a chapter on perhaps the most tumultuous stretch of the company’s 36-year history.
It was under his tenure that Mr. Ackman emerged as a ferocious critic of Herbalife, accusing it of being a pyramid scheme and betting that the company’s stock would fall to zero after government intervention.