Herbalife has enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years. The company has also weathered significant attacks in the financial markets, most notably from activist investor Bill Ackman, who has taken at $1 billion short position on the company and has launched an extensive public information campaign to drive down the company’s share price. That campaign has been unsuccessful in terms of the share price, but does seem to have borne fruit in other ways. Herbalife is currently under investigation by both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to Herbalife, Hoffman brings more than 20 years of public policy, communications and government affairs experience to the corporate affairs role. Hoffman’s most recent position was senior vice president for global public policy at PepsiCo, where he oversees policy development, external relations and government relations. He has also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Joseph Biden and Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama.
Hoffman replaces Barbara Henderson, who had served the company for a number of years, most recently as senior vice president of global corporate communications.
"We are thrilled to welcome Alan to the Herbalife team," said Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson. "He brings an unparalleled level of experience to our senior team, and we are confident that he has the experience and credentials to help us powerfully communicate the value Herbalife brings to our consumers, members, shareholders and communities.”
Change in policy?
Herbalife has been criticized in the past for being overly reticent in responding to attacks from high profile critics like Ackman and fellow activist investor David Einhorn, whose pointed questions in an earnings call several years ago led to a huge one day drop in the company’s share price. Herbalife as a matter of corporate policy has focused on its financial performance and has not engaged in a war of words with critrics with a few notable exceptions. Johnson seemed to leave the door open to the idea that the company was rethinking that strategy.
“Barb's retirement, while bittersweet, has provided us an opportunity to take a fresh look at our organization to make sure our leadership structure best reflects the overall needs of the company and puts us in the strongest position going forward. After careful consideration, we determined that aligning our external affairs activities would benefit Herbalife and all of our stakeholders,” he said.
Herbalife is the world’s largest multilevel marketing company focused solely on nutrition products. The company has recorded strong growth in recent years, notching $4.8 billion in net sales in its fiscal 2013. The company is scheduled to release its most recent earnings statement this afternoon.