The retiring chairman of the board of Nestlé, Helmut Maucher, says he is leaving his successors a corporation which is "in good shape" and "ready to face the challenges of the future".
Maucher, who has been with the world's number one food company for almost 50 years, has stepped down after having reached the maximum permitted age.
At his final address to shareholders in Lausanne, German-born Maucher, aged 72, said he was more optimistic than ever.
"Our corporation is starting to harvest the results of a far-reaching re-orientation and restructuring. The process was set in motion 20 years ago and it has brought Nestlé to a new dimension," he said.
Last year was a record year, with sales approaching SFr75 billion and real internal growth climbing towards the target of four per cent.
"Every single performance indicator shows that that your corporation is successfully staying ahead in an environment in which you must prove your competitiveness day after day," he told shareholders.
"In the light of the development at some competitors in our industry, these results are particularly positive," he added.
During his leadership at Nestlé, Maucher had to tackle the controversial issue of marketing practices for infant formula which unleashed a boycott campaign against the company's products.
The crisis was defused when Nestlé decided unilaterally to implement the World Health Organisation code on marketing of breast-milk substitutes and set up an independent commission, chaired by the former United States senator, Edmund Muskie, to monitor the company's code-implementation record and to investigate complaints.
Taking over as chairman is Rainer Gut, a member of the board since 1981 and vice-chairman since 1991.
swissinfo with agencies