(Oct. 29) Chiquita Brands International Inc. plans to cut more than 20% of its management jobs as part of a restructuring initiative aimed at saving the Cincinnati-based company at least $60 million a year.

Chiquita spokesman Mike Mitchell said Oct. 29 that money saved will be used primarily to reduce debt. The company, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2002, reported in June that it had $857 million in debt.

As part of the shakeup, Chiquita eliminated the roles of Bob Kistinger, who had been president and chief operating officer at Chiquita Fresh NA LLC.

Kistinger, who is expected to stay with the company through the end of the year as president for special assignments, has been with the company since 1980. Before becoming president of Chiquita Fresh in 2000, he was president and chief operating officer of Chiquita’s banana group.

“I wish to thank Bob for his many significant contributions and for his dedication and loyalty to Chiquita for more than a quarter century,” chairman and chief executive officer Fernando Aguirre said in a statement. “While we will certainly miss the benefit of his extensive industry knowledge, Bob developed a strong team of leaders in the company, several of whom will take over the daily duties of his position.”

Chiquita said it will pay about $25 million in severance during the fourth quarter. Chiquita cut 160 management jobs worldwide and eliminated more than 400 U.S. workers, as well.

Chiquita realigned its organizational structure by geography, rather than product line. As a result, the company made several changes with its executives:

  • Michael Loeb is now president for Europe and the Middle East. Loeb, previously president of Chiquita Fresh Group-Europe, will be responsible for all of the company’s business in Europe and the Middle East, including produce and value-added products;

  • Brian Kocher is now president for North America. He previously was vice president, controller and chief accounting officer. He will be responsible for the company’s operations in North America, including salads, bananas and other produce;

  • Tanios Viviani becomes president for global innovation and emerging markets. Viviani, previously president of Salinas-Calif.-based Chiquita subsidiary Fresh Express, will be responsible for global marketing, as well as the company’s consolidated research and product development initiatives;

  • Waheed Zaman is now senior vice president for product supply organization. Zaman, who previously was senior vice president for supply chain and procurement, will continue to be responsible for the company’s supply chain; and

  • Kevin Holland moves to senior vice president and chief people officer. Previously senior vice president of human resources, he will continue to be responsible for human resources but also will be responsible for overseeing the restructuring of the company.