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Report: Campbell COO is the leading internal candidate for CEO spot

Campbell Soup Co.'s current COO is a candidate for the food company's top executive position, Reuters reported Sept. 9.

Citing unnamed sources, the news service said Luca Mignini was the leading contender from within the company. Mignini has joined interim President, CEO and Director Keith McLoughlin as well as CFO and Senior Vice President Anthony DiSilvestro at recent meetings with Campbell investors, sources told Reuters.

The company is also likely to consider CEO candidates from outside the company, including Pinnacle Foods Inc. CEO and Director Mark Clouse, Reuters reported.

The ramp-up in Campbell's executive search comes days after Third Point LLC, an activist hedge fund managed by CEO and Portfolio Manager Daniel Loeb, sent a list of 12 candidates for the company's board of directors to management. Third Point had originally indicated that it would seek to replace only part of the company's board but decided to campaign for a completely new board after the company finished a review of its operations in August.

Neither Campbell nor Third Point immediately responded to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Third Point's slate is expected to face a vote at Campbell's annual shareholder meeting later this year. Loeb has indicated that he wants the company to sell itself in its entirety. In its review, though, Campbell decided to divest only its international and refrigerated fresh foods businesses.

Interim CEO McLoughlin has been leading the company since Denise Morrison, his predecessor, left in May. In recent quarters, the company has reported declining sales, booking especially steep losses in its soup segment.